E-commerce giant Alibaba said it will launch on Oct 13 its online payment service in Hong Kong in the local currency.
Douglas Feagin, senior vice-president and head of international business at Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd affiliate, said the company is now focused on expanding merchant acceptance of Alibaba’s flagship Alipay service in Hong Kong, and aims to sign up 8,000 local merchants before the end of the year.
So far, only mainland tourists are using Alipay when they buy things from Hong Kong. But Feagin said up to 20 percent of Hong Kong consumers are already users of the mainland e-commerce sites.
In August, Ant Financial was approved as one of the first five electronic payment operators to get the stored value facility licenses by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
The other four are O! ePay, the local prepaid card Octopus’ mobile payment service, TNG Wallet and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Tenpay, and HKT’s Tap & Go.
Alipay is only permitted to conduct online payment operations. Feagin said with its new license, it will try to first enable local consumers to use its service in convenience stores and other offline stores.
As a second step, it will file applications to the HKMA for other services, such as mobile payment at POS machines, peer-to-peer transfers and issuance of physical cards.
Feagin said Alibaba is set to include more offline stores into its payment platform, and to expand Alipay’s merchant acceptance across Asia and around the world.
Starting from September, Alipay service will be available in more than 600 Watson retail outlets in Hong Kong and some 100 stores in the Ocean Park, it said.