HK policymakers not keeping up with fast-changing world

March 28, 2019 11:53
Hong Kong’s online payment market may not develop so fast without the push from mainland players like Alipay and WeChat Pay. Photo: HKEJ

During a recent trip to Beijing, I ran into an old friend from the telecoms industry. We had dinner together and talked about how Hong Kong is falling behind other mainland Chinese cities in fintech.

Digital payments like WeChat Pay and Alipay are widely used all over the mainland, especially in the big cities. Customers can pay for almost everything without using cash or swiping a card.

Hong Kong was once the frontrunner in cashless payment when the Octopus Card launched two decades ago. Octopus later expanded overseas and even provided advisory services for public transportation systems in other nations.

But after that, I can’t think of any other homegrown Fintech product that has had such a big impact.

Mainland online payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay made a splash when they ventured into Hong Kong. After extensive promotions, they have started becoming popular here.

The two newcomers prompted local players to launch similar services, including Octopus, PayMeand Tap & Go.

To some extent, I believe Hong Kong’s online payment market may not develop so fast without the push from the two mainland payment platforms.

As our economy has benefited greatly from our status as a global financial center, our government is probably becoming a bit complacent and failing to catch up with the fast-changing world, especially with regard to technological advances.

Hopefully, the government would be more open to new ideas and help Hong Kong boost its competitiveness and rise to even greater heights.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 27

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman