Apple Pay Emerges as Preferred Mobile Wallet in Hong Kong: Study

Apple Pay Emerges as Preferred Mobile Wallet in Hong Kong: Study

by February 11, 2019

Apple Pay have emerged as the most popular mobile wallet in Hong Kong with about 29% of residents saying it was their main mobile wallet, according to the 2018 Hong Kong Retail Banking Satisfaction Study by JD Power, a global marketing information services provider.

The study, based on responses from 2,371 retail banking customers in the city and conducted between November 2017 and January 2018, found that although Apple Pay was the preferred mobile wallet in Hong Kong, residents rated WeChat Pay as the best mobile payment app in terms of satisfaction.

After Apple Pay, Octopus O! ePay was the second most popular wallet with 17% of Hong Kong residents stating it was their main mobile wallet service, followed by Android Pay at 16%, Alipay at 15% and WeChat Pay at 8%.

Contactless payment, Apple Pay, via

Contactless payment, Apple Pay, via

Apple Pay is a mobile payments and digital wallet service by Apple that allows users to make payments in person, in iOS apps and on the web. It digitizes and can replace a credit or debit card chip and PIN transaction at a contactless-capable point-of-sale (POS) terminal.

Apple Pay uses near-field communications (NFC) technology built into iPhones and Apple Watch devices to allow for contactless payments in stores, and is available in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Russia, China, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany, and most recently France, as well as various other European nations.

According to an Apple spokesman, Apple Pay accounts for nearly 90% of all NFC transactions globally.

In Hong Kong, Apple Pay began operating in July 2016 with participating banks and issuers in Hong Kong at launch including the Bank of East Asia (BEA), Bank of China (Hong Kong), DBS Bank (Hong Kong), Hang Seng Bank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered. US bank Citigroup linked up with the system in April 2018.

According to Caroline Ada, country manager at Visa Hong Kong and Macau, Apple Pay has considerably stimulated Hong Kong’s mobile payments market since launching in the city nearly three years ago.

“Apple Pay has significantly accelerated the growth of mobile payments and transformed how consumers pay in Hong Kong,” Ada told the South China Morning Post.

Industry sources claim about 30% of smartphone users in Hong Kong own iPhones, which has helped push local Apple Pay usage.

Apple Pay’s main competitor WeChat Pay is a digital wallet service incorporated into Tencent’s widely successful messaging app and social networking platform WeChat, which counts more than a billion daily active users. WeChat Pay allows users to perform mobile payments and send money between contacts. In 2017, the company introduced WeChat Pay HK, a payments service for users in Hong Kong.

WeChat Pay has more than 760 million users while Apple Pay about 127 million users globally.

Rival Alipay, the digital wallet service of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, said in June 2018 it crossed 1.5 million users in Hong Kong, up from one million in March 2018.

Other major brand-name mobile payments systems operating in Hong Kong include Samsung Pay and Android Pay.

In the past two years, mobile payments have witnessed rapid growth in Hong Kong, supported by the government’s numerous initiatives to promote cashless payments. A survey released in 2018 by the Internet Society Hong Kong, commissioned by Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (HKIRC), found that around 80% of respondents use mobile payments at least once a week with most frequent usages being in retail/physical stores, for online shopping and for dining.

A separate study by GroupM Mobile Wallet indicates that the number of mobile wallet users increased by 30% from 2.46 million to 3.20 million in 2018.

Despite growing acceptance, mobile and electronic payments services adoption in Hong Kong remains timid when compared with the likes of China and Singapore. One of the main reasons, according to the South China Morning Post, is that the city’s seven million residents rely heavily on the city’s first payments option, the contactless Octopus card.

Launched in 1997, the Octopus card can be used to pay fares on the city’s transport network of buses, ferries and trams, as well as the Mass Transit Railway (MTR). It is also accepted at several merchants as payment for goods and services, including convenience stores and supermarkets. The card system claims to cover 99% of the city’s population.

“Despite the 20 years that Octopus has been used in Hong Kong, it took Apple Pay and its competitors to actually bring mobile payments into the mainstream in the city,” Paul Haswell told the South China Morning Post.

“The number of competing mobile payment platforms in Hong Kong, combined with a reluctance by some parts of society to adopt these systems, means we’re at least five to ten years away from being a cashless city.”


Featured image: Apple Pay, via