The government has selected four electronic payment service operators to help dole out HK$5,000 in consumption vouchers the Hongkongers. The scheme aims to promote local consumption and speed up the economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic and recession.
Permanent Hong Kong residents and new arrivals aged 18 or above will be able to redeem their coupons through Octopus Hong Kong, AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK. The authorities are set to launch a registration drive for the scheme during the upcoming summer vacation, the government announced on Sunday.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the government considered “a basket of factors” when choosing the providers for disbursement and had consulted the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
“[I]ncluding the popularity, ease of use, and coverage of merchants of the [stored value facility], the operator’s relevant experience and supporting facilities, the preparation time required, etc,” he said.
The measure was one of the few sweeteners for the public in this year’s annual budget, which was delivered by the finance minister in late February. The city saw its economy shink by 6.1 per cent in the year 2020-21 – was the largest downturn on record.
Chan estimated at the time that the consumption voucher scheme would involve a financial commitment of about HK$36 billion and would benefit around 7.2 million Hongkongers.
According to a government’s statement on Sunday, the selected service providers currently cover a network of 30,000 to 100,000 merchants in local retail, food and beverage and service industries. In order to attract more merchants to take part in the scheme, the operators agreed to waive the administrative cost and the fees for installing and using their payment devices.
Octopus, Alipay HK and WeChat Pay HK said on Sunday that they welcomed the government’s decision, adding they would return the additional income generated from the voucher scheme to users and merchants through various means.
A spokesperson for Alipay HK – co-founded by the China-based Ant Group – said their participation in the scheme showed the government’s support and recognition of their business and technologies: “From fishballs on a skewer to products from large chain stores and shopping malls – all can be paid with one scan.”
WeChat Pay HK, on the other hand, announced they will roll out a “consumption voucher early subscription reward,” but details of the promotion are yet to be released: “WeChat Pay HK will introduce all kinds of additional promotions for users and merchants, to facilitate Hong Kong’s economic development with all stakeholders.”