HK adopts 4 e-payment platforms to issue digital vouchers to prop up economy
Published: Apr 11, 2021 03:34 PM
Skyscrapers in Hong Kong Photo: VCG

Skyscrapers in Hong Kong Photo: VCG

Four electronic payment providers were chosen by Hong Kong to operate the city's HK$36 billion digital voucher scheme this summer, which is estimated to bring economic growth of 0.7 percentage points this year, Hong Kong's Financial Secretary said on Sunday. 

The four providers - Alipay Hong Kong, Octopus, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay Hong Kong - each cover about 30,000 to 100,000 merchants in retail, food and beverage, and service industries in Hong Kong, the city's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said. 

"When identifying the operators, the government has taken factors into consideration including the provider's experience, popularity, and their coverage of merchants," Chan said, adding that the four providers are the customary payment tools for people in Hong Kong. 

A central registration system will be set up so that any qualified Hongkongers above 18 years old will be eligible to collect a HK$5,000 digital consumption voucher this summer, according to the official. 

The total planned issuing scale - HK$36 billion - is expected to shore up Hong Kong's economic growth by 0.7 percentage points; meanwhile, it will push small merchants to adopt electronic payment, he noted. 

"In order to produce the best possible economic results, in addition to the fast containment of the coronavirus in Hong Kong, I hope all of the payment providers and merchants in retail, food and beverage and other service sectors can promote the scheme actively, and even offer discounts across different sectors, so that the electronic vouchers can see a multiplier effect, prop up the local economy and market," he said. 

The economic stimulation effect of issuing digital consumption vouchers is twice that of issuing cash, Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute told Global Times. In particular, it is effective in boosting tourism - any 10 yuan digital voucher can feed into 300 yuan of consumption. 

"Over the past year, the consumption willingness of Hongkongers was severely restrained. As long as the SAR government, business sector, and especially the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), can come up with methods to unleash the consumption potential, it will help sales for sure," Liang noted. 

Hong Kong's economy dived 6.1 per cent last year - the biggest annual contraction in history - as the coronavirus hit its tourism and consumption sectors. 

"When containment measures relax in the future, I suggest more Hongkongers spend in Hong Kong for the city's 'self-rescue' instead of travelling to other cities," Liang said, adding that the average number of times that Hongkongers travel abroad each year has hit 11.4 - the highest in the world. 

In order to be back on track, Hong Kong could grasp the opportunities by actively getting involved in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, while the Chinese mainland sees brisk economic rebound, according to Liang. 

In March, Chan announced that Hong Kong is expected to see a growth of 3.5 to 5.5 percent in 2021 and vowed to continue to give financial support to SMEs.