Alipay turns gaze to wet markets in HK e-payments push

October 24, 2017 16:20
China's Alipay hopes to encourage wet markets and small shopkeepers in Hong Kong to transition toward digital wallets and cut cash usage. Photo: HKEJ

Hawkers at the MC Box Po Tat market in Kwun Tong district will start accepting payments through electronic means in the coming months, thanks to a cashless transaction push from Chinese online payments system Alipay.

Tenants at the market, located in the Kowloon peninsula, will be the first batch of vendors that Alipay will cover under a business initiative targeted at wet markets and other street merchants in Hong Kong, Apple Daily reports.

Under the program, hawkers who opt to use Alipay will not have to pay service fee for the first three months of the trial, as the Chinese company seeks to encourage small businesses to go cashless.

After the initial three months, the fee will be decided based on usage of the e-payments at the market.

Jackie Ling Wai-yip, who is overseeing the Alipay transaction push in Hong Kong, said he hopes to lure more small vendors into the Alipay digital wallet system, helping the city move toward a cashless economy.

Ling believes the number of wet markets using Alipay can be boosted to 11 in the coming few months.

Venetia Lee Wing-sze, general manager of Alipay Hong Kong and Macau, noted that currently there are not as many people using Alipay in Hong Kong as compared to mainland China.

Wet markets have a lot of small transactions every day, making them suitable for testing the waters, she added.

Alipay could potentially cut costs for the vendors in the wet markets, according to the executive.

Alipay has been in touch with over 8,000 merchants in Hong Kong as the firm hopes to make the e-payments system more popular.

Lee said that half of the merchants have already joined in the plan since May, with the list including big names such as Watsons and ParkNShop.

Since most merchants accept credit card payment, it would be more competitive to try and change the current system to Alipay, she said.

In other comments, Lee said the firm will try to get more small to medium-sized merchants onto the Alipay bandwagon.

Lee pegs Alipay Hong Kong user numbers to be somewhere in the hundreds of thousands, and said she hopes to increase the usage as there are new peer-to-peer fund transfer functions.

She says that one reason why there are so many people using Alipay in Hong Kong is because of the popularity of Taobao, the online shopping platform that is operated by affiliate Alibaba.

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