Francesca Lam has been using mobile payment for four years. As she leaves her home every day, her Octopus card is recharged ready via credit card to take care of all her transactions of the day. She has taken the first step into a cashless society.

The 27-year-old white collar has allocated different mobile payment services for payment depending on the transaction amount, credit card attached Octopus card for small amounts and Applepay for small and medium payments.

Lam is one of the 0.9 million people using mobile payment in Hong Kong, and the number keeps increasing year-on-year. In 2016, the number of mobile payment users in Hong Kong increased by 247 percent to 0.89 million over the last year. The statistics collector Statista estimated the number would double by 2020.

The Hong Kong government has taken proactive steps to make the payment system in the city more convenient. The city’s central bank Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has granted licenses to 13 companies in 2016.

The burgeoning industry has attracted major companies including Apple, Alipay and Andriod to launch their services in Hong Kong and to capitalize on the nascent market, continuing to offer new services like eWallet and to encourage users with high discounts up to 25 percent.

“With contactless payments via Octopus card as well as the ease with which companies in Hong Kong adapt to new technologies, we believe mobile payments at points of sale could be a strong starting point for mobile payments,” MasterCard said in the index report, which gave Hong Kong 33.7 points against the global index average of 33.2.

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The card providers like MasterCard have been the catalyst in the transition as they are providing the base to the companies to reach out to the customers in a more efficient way. “Hong Kong consumers have shown appetite and it is encouraging to see members of the general public embrace new payment technologies,” said Hiang Choong, division president of MasterCard.

E-commerce giant Alibaba-backed Alipay, which received the license for mobile payment service this year, has provided 6,000 shops in nearly 20 industries in Hong Kong within a year and is planning to expand its horizon to other stores in the city as well in the wake of growing competition.

“The future will be extended to more scenes like department stores, bookstores, supermarkets and so on,” said Pan Xiaolin, the PR director of Alipay.

Mobile payment transaction value increased substantially by 246 percent to $242 million in the ongoing year compared to the year 2015, Statista showed.

Although the transition towards mobile payment has just started but security issues still tingles the industry’s growth.

“If I lose my phone, anyone can easily access my account information,” said Astor Lo, a communication consultant who seldom uses mobile payment.

Lo also recalled the time when she forgot to bring her wallet and suddenly she realized, “I can use my mobile phone to pay.” Now she recognized it one of the most convenient ways in her daily life.

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(This article is a group work by Pragya Bhatnagar, Silvia Luo, Aubrey Zeng, Kevin Pei and me.)

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