Tycoons Li Ka Shing, Jack Ma join hands to bring digital wallet to Hong Kong

Li Ka Shing (left) and Jack Ma will form a joint venture to offer a digital wallet service in Hong Kong. PHOTOS: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Billionaire Li Ka Shing's CK Hutchison Holdings and Jack Ma's Ant Financial unit will form a joint venture to offer a digital wallet service in Hong Kong.

The wallet will come under the AlipayHK brand which was already launched in May, CK Hutchison said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 26).

The mobile app will allow users to make in-store payments in 4,000 retail outlets and will also offer insurance products and food and beverage vouchers.

The venture comes after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority started granting licences to operators last year that allowed consumers to store money in local versions of online wallets. The city's de facto central bank has granted five stored-value facilities licences in total, with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings also approved to offer digital wallets to consumers in Hong Kong.

CK Huichison's group co-managing director Canning Fok said the venture will benefit the telecommunications and retail customers of the conglomerate, which runs the Watsons health-and-beauty chain in the city. It also helps CK Hutchison penetrate the lucrative mobile payment arena.

The JV is expected to be completed by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval, according to the company statement.

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