Hong Kong cashless payment provider Octopus to make extending card limit easier, in bid to win customers for government’s HK$36 billion consumer voucher giveaway

Kanis Leung
·4-min read

Octopus has fired the first shot in the bid to win customers for the government’s HK$36 billion consumer voucher giveaway, revealing that users will soon be able to extend the stored-value limit of their cards to HK$3,000 (US$386) at transport subsidy collection devices and designated retailers.

The cashless payment provider unveiled a raft of new measures on Thursday to make it easier for merchants and shoppers to use their services ahead of registration opening for the digital HK$5,000 consumption vouchers, which is expected to take place during the summer holiday period.

Rita Li, the company’s sales and marketing director, said cardholders would be able to automatically extend the limit through Octopus service points and public transport fare subsidy collection points gradually from April 29, in addition to using its mobile application.

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The services would also be available when shoppers reload their cards or collect transport subsidies at outlets of 7-Eleven, Circle K, and Wellcome supermarket.

“We hope to make the service more widespread and to help our clients increase their cards’ stored-value limit to HK$3,000 … then they don’t need to worry if their cards can collect the vouchers,” Li said. The amount is the ceiling stipulated by stored-value facility regulations.

The voucher scheme, which is designed to boost local spending, will offer every adult Hong Kong resident HK$5,000 in local spending vouchers, benefiting 7.2 million people. It will cost the government an estimated HK$36 billion, of which HK$600 million is for administrative expenses.

Apart from Octopus, three other electronic payment service providers – AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK – will operate the programme, which is expected to give the economy a 0.7 percentage-point boost.

However, residents can only choose one operator.

Over the past few days, some of these operators stepped up efforts to promote their services, in a bid to attract merchants and consumers to join their platforms.

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The latest measures announced by Octopus- used by up to 98 per cent of the city’s 7.5 million population as well as 62,000 retail and food and drink outlets – have added spice to the competition.

Li said the government and her company were still studying how to distribute the vouchers.

“We propose to the government that they can use the same channels for collecting the spending vouchers,” she said. “For example, Octopus Service Points, transport subsidy collection devices or some designated retailers.”

She added picking up the vouchers through the firm’s mobile application was also part of the company’s suggestion.

Rita Li demonstrates a version of the Octopus system at the company’s office in Kowloon Bay. Photo: May Tse
Rita Li demonstrates a version of the Octopus system at the company’s office in Kowloon Bay. Photo: May Tse

The director also said residents would not have to get the vouchers available in one go if they already had a lot of money stored on their cards.

“When adding the value of vouchers to the cards, if that exceeds [the limit of HK$3,000], you can collect it in phases,” she said.

Meanwhile, Octopus would roll out incentives for merchants who had not registered their services yet.

These firms could register the services on the operator’s mobile application tailored for businesses and receive a free mobile payment collection device, valued at HK$228.

During the scheme, the 1.5 per cent administration charges for transactions would be waived.

Businesses can also enjoy other sweeteners when they apply for another type of card-reading device.

Danny Lau Tat-pong, of the Hong Kong Small and Medium Enterprises Association, believed the measures would be attractive to small businesses, who mostly worried about the fees of renting devices and the administration charges.

Lau believed the roll-out could help Octopus win some merchants as long-term clients.

“When businesses get used to the system after running a few months, it may cause them inconvenience if they have to stop using it. But of course, it could depend on individual cases,” he said.

Separately, Tap & Go earlier said it would offer support to new merchants too, such as waiving fees for those adopting its one-stop mobile payment acceptance device. Meanwhile, it said it would announce offers for consumers later.

This article Hong Kong cashless payment provider Octopus to make extending card limit easier, in bid to win customers for government’s HK$36 billion consumer voucher giveaway first appeared on South China Morning Post

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