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Can Hong Kong’s Octopus compete with Apple Pay?

Octopus Hong Kong e-Wallet vs. Apple Pay
Octopus chief executive Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong.

The e-wallet battle is heating up, after Hong Kong’s dominant ­Octopus cards announced on Tuesday an app for Apple devices to be launched on Wednesday, a week after ­Apple Pay went live in the city.

To use the system, Hongkongers will need to download an ­Octopus app, buy an Octopus card reader for HK$228 and pair the card reader via Bluetooth with an iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad.

Apple tightly guards its security and proprietary technology used for its digital wallet and mobile payment service, Apple Pay. That service uses Apple’s TouchID fingerprint recognition technology to make payments, which Octopus does not support.

HSBC Apple Pay - Retail in Asia
Apple Pay in Hong Kong.

That is why Octopus needs to include the personal card reader to support its own mobile ­payment set-up. China’s similar Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat app support TouchID, making them convenient for iPhone users.

Octopus’ online payment ­services have been available since 2014 on Android smartphones and have so far recorded about one million downloads.

“Competition exists at all times. Octopus ­offers a very simple, efficient and convenient choice.” – Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong, Octopus chief executive

Cheng told the Post that the new online feature could transfer funds from one user to another through person-to-person app O! ePay, and settle payments to online shops such as Alibaba’s Taobao.

The app does not support ­contactless payments in stores using an Apple device. Cheng added that Octopus was not only used for shopping at 17,000 retail outlets, but on public transport and for accessing ­residential and commercial premises. Apple Pay is available at about 10,000 outlets.

(Source: SCMP)

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