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Hong Kong Free Press is urging its monthly donors who use PayPal to check their accounts, or switch to Stripe, as the payment platform rolls out new requirements for all of its Hong Kong users.

In recent weeks, PayPal has begun requiring Hong Kong-registered customers to upload identification documents to avoid account suspensions. The move resulted in users, and local businesses, seeing subscription payments unexpectedly paused or cancelled.

PayPal. File photo: Marco Verch, via CC2.0.

Independent media outlets such as HKFP and Chinese-language news site InMediaHK have been disproportionally affected, with most supporters being registered in the territory.

“We have a number of PayPal transfers [that have been] affected,” a spokesperson for InMediaHK.net told HKFP last week. “We understand the PayPal policy, but hope that PayPal could give more time for users to submit the information needed.”

With costs rising following an expansion, and income floundering, HKFP also urged its Patrons to log in and update their PayPal profiles: “Some donors are struggling to have their ID documents accepted, so we urge them to contact PayPal support in the hope they can continue their much-needed support of our news team,” an HKFP spokesperson said.

PayPal statement

“We encourage our customers to complete the verification process as soon as possible when prompted so they can use PayPal services without experiencing possible future interruptions, as well as to help protect them from fraudulent and unauthorized activity. Customers may refer to emails sent to their PayPal-registered addresses or log into their PayPal app for more details. Customers will need to use the latest version of the PayPal mobile app to verify their identities. We encourage customers who may be having difficulties to contact us.”

Two-thirds of donations frozen

HKFP has seen the majority of its PayPal contributions – over 200 – frozen. The figure represents two-thirds of PayPal donors.

PayPal payment suspensions
PayPal payment suspensions seen by HKFP over the course of three days. Photo: HKFP.

HKFP donors who do not wish, or who are unable, to successfully submit their identification details, may easily switch to a direct, credit/debit card contribution via Stripe.

Readers are asked to simply cancel their PayPal donation and head to support.hongkongfp.com to continue backing the newsroom.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.