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HSBC launches e-wallet to compete against AliPay, WeChat Pay in HK

2019-07-16 11:46 Tuesday


HSBC has launched a dedicated digital e-wallet in Hong Kong aimed at small businesses and the B2C market in order to fend off competition from large tech companies in the region encroaching on their own banking services.

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The mobile payment wallet is called PayMe. It allows users to transfer small amounts of money between each other and has been available to retail customers for around 2 years. The difference now, though, is that the company is using the e-wallet as a way to sign up small businesses.

HSBC's regional head of commercial banking in Asia Pacific, Stuart Tait, told reporters that the bank has received "thousands of applications" since the separate, business-focused e-wallet app was launched in April.

The island city has seen a rise in fintech firms applying for, and receiving, banking licenses in recent months.

Since the start of the year, Tencent has received approval from the HK Monetary Authority to set up a digital bank, along with smartphone maker Xiaomi, insurer Ping An, and e-commerce platform provider and retail firm Alibaba, which also runs the popular Alipay digital payment app.

Alibaba's e-wallet venture in Hong Kong, launched in partnership with local billionaire Li Ka-shing's CK Hutchison Holdings, has signed up 50,000 merchants and more than 2 million users since the joint venture was formed in March 2018. Alipay is owned by Alibaba's financial services arm, Ant Financial.

Tencent's startup fintech business, Infinium Ltd, is a joint venture between Tencent, ICBC, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, Hillhouse Capital, and HK-based businessman Adrian Cheng, according to reports.

Such moves have put added pressure on traditional banks in Hong Kong, such as the London-listed HSBC as well as Standard Chartered.

Stuart Tait, regional head of commercial banking for HSBC in Asia Pacific, said: “We never really thought of it as a client acquisition tool in the space but a number of companies [have come] along that we don't currently bank with.”

 The PayMe for Business app is available for download at Hong Kong Apple App Store and via Google Play. By using the PayMe app, customers can make payments by activating a QR code scanner on their phone with a simple swipe to the left, and then scan the dynamic PayCode provided by the merchant.

 For service providers, the PayMe for Business app requires no set-up cost. It also has no limits on payment collections amount and enables merchants to instantly transfer money to their HSBC Business Banking account and have access to their money in real time.

 The cashless payment app also offers features to help them gain insights into their business performance, as well as easily export transaction histories into compatible business accounting software.

 At the time, Greg Chapman, head of PayMe at HSBC, said: “Recent beta testing has given us invaluable merchant and consumer insights, allowing us to refine the user experience before today's launch.  We are thrilled to have launched the app knowing that it was co-designed with our customers, and we look forward to continue building out new features to support all their business needs and help them grow.”

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