Hong Kong’s ’’cashless’’ road: start early, slow development
Hong Kong reported that as a place with a reputation as a "smart city," Hong Kong should give up cash and join the wave of globalization of electronic payments. Today, some convenience stores in Hong Kong can make cashless payments, but taxis and smaller retailers only accept cash.
Larry Salibra is a cashless fan, but in Hong Kong, he has to carry Hong Kong dollars. “In fact, I prefer the restaurants which support cashless payment by smart pos – because I don’t want to take responsibility for carrying and keeping cash and being risk of loss.”
In fact, the cashless of Hong Kong started very early and is one of the first places in the world to use a cashless payment system. As early as 1997, Hong Kong launched the Octopus card, which can be swiped directly on the POS system. Since then, cashless payments have developed rapidly around the world.
Although 13 companies in Hong Kong now have a stored value payment (SVF) license, that is, a third-party payment license, the penetration rate of cashless has not been high. Bitcoin entrepreneur James Bon believes that mainland China's electronic payment and smart POS penetration rate has surpassed Hong Kong.
The reason, the deep-rooted cash culture, and the elderly who are unwilling to accept new technologies are the two main factors that hinder Hong Kong from becoming a cashless society.
“When new technologies come, they are always popular in large chain stores. No one pays attention to the small business transactions. And I think those small transactions are the 'blue ocean', which is the place that payment companies should pay attention to.” Hong Kong Legislative Council Mo Naiguang said that there is no big technical obstacle to the popularization of cashless payment methods. It only needs to be accepted by merchants and consumers.
Simon Dickson, co-founder of Future Bank, said: "Hong Kong is one of the most modern cash cities I have ever seen." He pointed out that most developed countries are committed to a cashless society. At the end of 2016, the Swedish Central Bank even considered issuing the digital currency “electronic krona” in response to the sharp decline in the country’s cash use.
Under the irreversible trend, Hong Kong banks began to study how to make more consumers accept cashless payments. A spokesperson for the Bank of China pointed out that convenience, special offers and low cost are the three main points for promoting the development of cashless payments.
Andrew Eldon, head of digital affairs at HSBC, said that Hong Kong has many conditions for the development of digital payment methods. “In some recreational activities, cash is still very popular, but we are working hard to develop a good ecological environment for digital payments and provide valuable services to consumers and businesses.”
James State believes that in order to promote a cashless payment system, the Hong Kong government should make a difference. “If you want to be a true smart city, cashless payment by android pos is an essential part, but I have not heard the initiative and promotion of the (Hong Kong) government. Hong Kong is a very small place and everything is easy to achieve.”
James State pointed out that one of the ways to promote cashless payments is to cancel large denomination currencies. For higher-priced products, consumers will prefer cashless payments to avoid the inconvenience caused by a stack of banknotes. In fact, some countries have already imposed restrictions on cash transactions. For example, in Italy, in 2011, it was illegal for anyone to use more than 1,000 euros in cash payments. This initiative aims to combat terrorism, money laundering and tax evasion, but invisibly push consumers to cashless payments.
Although cashless payments are quick and easy, cash transactions are also attractive, such as anonymity. At the same time, cash is also a tangible asset that makes people feel more secure. But James State believes that Hong Kong's cashless road is inevitable because "Hong Kong people like convenience."
"It's a matter of time, it all depends on when cashless payments become as convenient as an Octopus card," James Bon said.
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