Boom time for delivery, e-payments firms in HK as more stay home

Digital transactions are also picking up amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Digital transactions are also picking up amid the coronavirus outbreak.PHOTO: REUTERS

Business is booming for companies offering delivery or electronic payment services as people practise social distancing and turn to digital transactions.

Foodpanda said it has been "experiencing week-on-week growth on demand" for its food delivery services since Chinese New Year.

Zeek, a company that offers online-to-offline and last-mile delivery solutions, has seen a rise in order volume and the number of merchants who want to work with the firm since the start of the year.

Digital transactions are also picking up amid the coronavirus outbreak.

E-payment provider Octopus Cards said transaction volume in January and February for its mobile wallet rose 20 per cent year on year and transaction value rose 30 per cent.

The monthly average transaction amount of the O! ePay Mastercard went up by 60 per cent during the same period.

Hong Kong has long been known to be a city where cash is still king and the take-up of electronic payments has lagged behind other Chinese cities.

The lower adoption rate has mostly been due to the fact that it is a convenient city, unlike on the mainland where it is difficult to get a credit card and online services make it convenient for shoppers.

But social distancing would be a catalyst in driving people and businesses to adopt technology, said Mr Wilson Chow, PwC's global technology, media and telecoms industry leader.

"Emerging technologies like Internet of Things and augmented reality can ride on this efficient network in order to explore many innovative services like the smart city initiative and this will form a better environment for people to adopt digital transactions in the future," he said.

While it is not known when the Covid-19 pandemic will blow over, Mr Chow noted that the online entertainment sector has "significant growth potential" as people spend more time at home.

Similarly, Zeek's chief operations officer Vincent Fan thinks the take-up of online shopping will be expedited. "What we see now is that the coronavirus outbreak is changing how people spend money and even how they live their lives. Once the consumers are willing to try for the first time to shop online, they will get used to it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2020, with the headline 'Boom time for delivery, e-payments firms in HK as more stay home'. Print Edition | Subscribe