CASH IN A FLASH - Hong Kong

Octopus' tentacles everywhere

The Octopus card is very popular, with China Daily Asia reporting last September that users chalked up daily spending of HK$173 million (S$31.3 million).
The Octopus card is very popular, with China Daily Asia reporting last September that users chalked up daily spending of HK$173 million (S$31.3 million). ST PHOTO: JOYCE LIM

Cashless payments are growing in Asia with consumers lured by an increasing array of services, from smartphone payment apps such as e-wallets to stored value cards and cheap online interbank transfers.Many like the convenience and safety of not having to carry cash. But the growth is not universal, and, in some countries, cash remains king because of fears of identity theft as well as the lack of infrastructure and lack of knowledge of the digital world.

Hong Kongers are spoilt for choice when it comes to cashless payments. Whether it is paying for groceries, a cup of coffee or a meal in a restaurant, most places provide payment options using the Octopus card, mobile e-wallets and credit cards.

The Octopus card is very popular, with China Daily Asia reporting last September that users chalked up daily spending of HK$173 million (S$31.3 million).

Last year, the Hong Kong government approved stored-value licences for 13 e-wallet providers. They include PayPal, Optal, UniCard, Alipay Wallet, Tap&Go by PCCW's HKT and Tencent's WeChat Pay.

Following the launch of Apple Pay last July, Android Pay introduced its touchless payment system at more than 5,000 locations in the city.

A report by research firm Statista estimated the total value of digital transactions in Hong Kong will reach US$13.85 billion (S$19.45 billion) this year.

With an annual growth rate of 16 per cent, it is expected to hit US$25.1 billion in 2021.

Last year, the value of total retail sales was HK$436.6 billion.

Joyce Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'Octopus' tentacles everywhere'. Print Edition | Subscribe