On 24th May 2017, Alipay announced the launch of the mobile wallet in Hong Kong – AlipayHK, to provide the residents in Hong Kong with an up-to-date cashless service. In the past, Alipay was just a payment tool for people in Hong Kong to be used when they shopped on Taobao. But now, with this independent app, AlipayHK, they can pay by simply scanning the QR code, and even get some discounts from the platform.
In August 2016, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued third-party payment licenses. And the first batch of qualified organisations qualified to provide digital financial services in locality included Alipay, Wechat Pay, HKT Payment, Octopus and TNG (Asia). After half-a-year of preparation, AlipayHK was launched.
Currently many Hong Kong citizens and mainland Chinese commuted regularly between Guangdong province and Hong Kong. Many Hong Kong citizens worked in Hong Kong whilst lived in Shenzhen, a city nearby. Without a mainland bank card, the majority of Hong Kong citizens cannot use QR payments in Hong Kong but now, after AlipayHK began operating, all the residents of Hong Kong can link a local credit card with the app, and directly pay by Hong Kong dollar.
AlipayHK enables in-app functions, such as QR payment, and offers vouchers for food and beverage as well as sticker rewards from local partners, such as online dining guide OpenRice. You can now make payments, by scanning the QR code, in more than 2000 stores and outlets ranging from hotels, theme parks and supermarkets. According to Alipay, more features will be available soon, including insurance, transfer, ride-hailing and payment for utility fees, etc, and people in Hong Kong are expected to live the same ‘cashless’ life as mainland Chinese in the near future.
It is reported by CNBC that Ant Financial now has had more than 4.5 million users. It is still growing outside its home market, leaving the footprints in many Asian countries. Taking a look at its previous strategy of overseas expansion, we can find that the cooperation between Ant Financial and local enterprises has intensified.
In April 2017 Ant Financial merged with helloPay, an online payment platform of the e-commerce website Lazada in South Asia. For its users from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia to the Philippines, hellpPay will continue to operate in the name of Alipay. And that means Ant Financial will have only a supporting role, but has set its sight on building an awareness of its own brand at the local places.
Alipay’s release of the first independent version of a HK app, and its attempt to penetrate local everyday services is reflecting the importance that it has placed on this potential great market. With the launch of AlipayHK, Ant Financial will have the number of its partner countries and regions increased to six. The president of the International Business Department of Ant Financial once said that they expected to make their cashless service accessible to 2 billion global users in the next decade.
Alipay’s biggest rival, Wechat Pay has marched into the Hong Kong market as well. According to a report published by Wechat, Hong Kong had taken the first place over South Korea in the chart of tourist destinations with most cross-border transactions through WechatPay. Furthermore, in the Spring Festival in 2016, Tecent managed to bring the most popular Wechat ‘red envelope’ to Hong Kong; in March 2017, the new mobile product ‘We Remit’ was in the pocket of Filipino workers living in Hong Kong to address their needs of remittance.
Not surprisingly, the turf war between these two tycoons will get fiercer and fiercer.
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