A Payments Battle Is Brewing in Hong Kong
Banks around the world are watching China’s big payments apps.
Hong Kong is ‘going to be a battleground,’ consultant says.
Alipay’s azure blue logos began appearing two years ago in Hong Kong’s airport, greeting travelers from China who rely on the popular payments app back home.

In recent months, taxis got them. Now stores and boutiques have them.

They’re all signs of a battle brewing in Hong Kong that will test whether a Western-style financial system — based on banks, credit and debit cards — can fend off a pair of apps that have come to dominate how people spend and send money throughout China. If Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay can expand into the city and win new customers there, why not in Europe and the U.S., too?
“It’s going to be a battleground here,” said James Lloyd, a Hong Kong-based fintech specialist at consultancy EY. “The next 12 to 24 months, we’re going to see a very significant shake-up of the consumer payments and retail banking market.”

The two payment apps flourished on the mainland by offering millions of people who were underserved by banks an easy way to store and use their money via mobile phone. By last year’s fourth quarter, payment apps handled 37.7 trillion yuan ($5.9 trillion) of spending in China, up 28 percent from just three months earlier, according to research firm Analysys International. Alipay handled 54 percent of that, followed by Tencent’s 38 percent.
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By Alfred Liu
May 25, 2018, 2:30 AM GMT+5:30


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