Concept of “smart payment” gradually gains ground in Hong Kong – survey finds

Maria Nikolova

According to the study, over the past year, 20% of Hong Kong citizens ‘frequently’ or ‘sometimes’ made purchases through mobile payment.

Hong Kong residents are gradually warming up to the idea of smart payments but worries of data leakage and lack of knowledge about new technologies hamper the wider adoption of novel types of payment, a recent survey has shown.

The Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) has released the inaugural “AlipayHK Smart Payment Popularity Index”, which reports an Overall Index at 53.9 (maximum being 100).

Comprising the “Retailer Smart Payment Readiness Level” and the “Consumer Smart Payment Acceptance Level”, the Index aims to assess the popularity of smart payment in Hong Kong from the perspectives of both retailers and consumers. The survey, conducted via telephone, covered 428 retailers and 1,049 Hong Kong residents aged between 15 and 64. The interviews were conducted between May and June 2018.

Around 60% of surveyed retailers have not yet provided mobile payment mainly due to “estimated low demand from customers”.

The “Consumer Smart Payment Acceptance Level” has shown a slightly-lower-than-expected reading of 45.5. In terms of age group, citizens aged “25-34” were most receptive to the notion of smart payment (57.1), whereas the “50-64” age group (32.2) was least receptive.

Approximately 30% of the Hong Kong residents surveyed had mobile payment experience while 14% said they planned to adopt mobile payment. The major reason for its usage was “quick transaction” (55% of the respondents pointed out this reason). In contrast, the key obstacles to its wider use include “unfamiliarity with the operation” (68%) and “worries of personal data leakage” (55%).

Jennifer Tan, CEO of Alipay Payment Services(HK) Limited, said, “The biggest takeaway is that our city is gradually becoming a Smart City. According to the study, over the past year, 20% of Hong Kong citizens ‘frequently’ or ‘sometimes’ purchased through mobile payment. Given current user base of 1.5 million citizens, we are glad our users are part of the main driving force in mobile payment. In addition, the survey found that a lack of understanding towards in-app operation is the main reason for non-usage.”

The survey also shed some light on the trends prevailing in the payment ecosystem in Hong Kong in the past year. The results show that cash was still the most frequently used payment method (99%), while mobile payment only accounted for 20%.

The conservatism with regard to payment methods fits well with the caution that the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has demonstrated with regard to use of instant messaging apps by the securities industry. The regulator requires that messages relating to client orders (order messages) and the IM accounts and devices for storing and processing them should be properly maintained and centrally managed to reduce the possibility of error and minimize the risk of record tampering. All order messages should be fully recorded and properly maintained for a period of not less than two years. In order to provide security and reliability, the firms have to make sure that the identities of clients who send order messages should be properly authenticated and validated.

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