Hong Kong rolls out tap-to-collect travel rebate system

Hong Kong transport subsidy scheme launches with minor hiccups for tap-and-go Octopus card top-ups at stores — South China Morning Post — “Under the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme, commuters with monthly travel expenses exceeding HK$400 (US$51) received subsidies of 25% of the difference between their total cost and this sum, capped at HK$300… Commuters can collect the subsidy for the previous month via the Octopus App or at more than 1,800 collection points around the city… For those who pocket the subsidy at convenience stores, they will also be given a HK$10 coupon for purchases in the same shop.”


Didi Chuxing expands into financial services

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing enters financial services amid profit push — South China Morning Post — “The new offering, which Didi introduced on Wednesday, includes mutual protection and crowdfunding products for critical illnesses, credit and lending, wealth management and auto-financing services… Didi’s foray into financial services is part of its effort to build a ‘more connected ecosystem’ with reliable and competitive services, according to a company spokesman.”


Tencent connects car registrations to WeChat Pay for pay-by-plate parking at 1,000 Chinese shopping malls

WeChat Pay launches auto scan-and-pay for parking in China’s shopping malls — South China Morning Post — “To be part of this system, car owners must register their plate numbers under their WeChat Pay accounts. Their plates are scanned by specially set-up cameras located at the exit points of car parking sites. The artificial intelligence-based system automatically matches the captured image of the plate number with a database of WeChat Pay users to determine the corresponding account and settle the parking fees.”


Micro loans let Chinese consumers buy snacks and lipsticks on credit

Chinese millennials are buying hamburgers on instalment, fuelling micro loan industry — South China Morning Post — “A small layer cake can be had for as low as 0.46 yuan per month for three years, or there’s lipstick for only 1.93 yuan (3 US cents) per month for two years. Interest rates differ based on the product price and repayment period but some loans are offered interest free.”


Central bank tightens rules on accepting cards and cash in Chinese stores

As China goes increasingly cashless, PBOC says cash payment is still alive — South China Morning Post — “The central bank in China, the world’s largest mobile payment market, is urging individuals and companies to not refuse or discriminate against cash payment… The PBOC said cash should be accepted alongside the debit card at all business outlets, with the exception of e-commerce and unstaffed stores. Businesses have one month from Friday to make necessary adjustments to avoid being investigated for breaches by the authorities.”


WeChat Pay ‘will not seek to offer more local payment wallets’

WeChat Pay to keep overseas focus on outbound tourism instead of offering more local wallets — South China Morning Post — “Tencent’s WeChat Pay said it will not seek to offer more local payment wallets to overseas customers over the next three years and will remain focused on serving outbound Chinese tourists better in popular overseas destinations… ‘In mainland China we have millions of users so we can make WeChat Pay into a successful payments tool… We don’t have many WeChat users in overseas countries so we should accept that it will be hard to develop payment tools for them.’”


Ant Financial targets South America and Africa for next phase of mobile payments growth

Ant Financial sees huge growth for cashless payments in South America, Africa — South China Morning Post — “Kenny Man, head of international investment for Ant Financial, said over the next five years, emerging markets including those in South America and Africa will be priority for the company’s global partnerships… ‘China has leapfrogged over traditional credit cards to the mobile wallet. That same change will be even more radical and faster in different parts of the world, whereby people will embrace mobile payments,’ Man said.”


Chinese mobile payments providers begin charging fees to users

Tencent’s WeChat widens service fee for users of ‘card repay’ feature in digital wallet — South China Morning Post — “In line with international practice, there are no free financial services. WeChat previously paid the credit card repayment fee for users, going forward the new fee chargeable to customers will support sustainable development [of the service],” said a Tencent spokesman in response to a request for comment.”


Chinese university pilots face recognition for campus access control

Peking University installs facial recognition system for students and staff on campus gate — South China Morning Post — “Anyone going through the southwestern gate of prestigious Peking University can now have their face scanned by a camera instead of showing their ID card to security guards under a trial run of the system that started on Wednesday… It is not the university’s first use of the technology on campus — it has already installed about two dozen facial recognition devices outside some of its libraries, classrooms, student dormitories, gymnasiums and computer centres.”


Citi to let customers check their bank account from within Facebook Messenger

Citi joins chatbot arms race, unveils Facebook messenger tie-up that will launch later this year — South China Morning Post — “Citi’s offering will be the first Facebook Messenger-embedded chatbot to let customers access their own financial records and potentially conduct transactions in future. It plans to roll out the service worldwide following its launch in Singapore in March.”


Fake QR code payment scammers arrested in China

Chinese market targeted by scammers who set up fake QR codes to divert payments — South China Morning Post — “A food market in China has been targeted by scammers who used fake QR codes to divert mobile payments into their own account… Three men have been arrested on suspicion of printing out small pieces of paper with the QR codes on them and then sticking them over 60 codes used by traders in Nanjing… The three unemployed men — who were only identified by their surnames Zhao, Zhu and Zhang — reportedly told police they had been inspired by a friend who had made money this way.”


Hong Kong bank adds finger vein biometrics to ATMs

Hong Kong lender banking on finger veins being better than faces for ATM security — South China Morning Post — “Bosses at Bank of China Hong Kong said on Tuesday they expected to bring finger vein identification to all of the company’s ATMs across the city, claiming the feature to be more secure than facial recognition. The bank – the first to use the new technology in the city – had already extended it to a third of its cash machines by last month.”


Mobile payments gain ground in China’s 600,000 villages

China’s village people fast to adopt mobile payments — South China Morning Post — “The mainland market for mobile payment transactions, which reached US$5.5tn in 2016, is poised for further expansion as many consumers and businesses go cashless in more than 600,000 villages across the country… These villages are administratively categorised below townships, counties, cities and provinces.”


Huawei and UnionPay to expand Huawei Pay to Russia

China’s Huawei Pay debuts in Russia, as first port of call in global push — South China Morning Post — “It is a win-win cooperation between two Chinese companies as we join hands to increase the influence that China wields in the global mobile payment businesses,” said Wang Lixin, a vice-president of UnionPay International… In Russia, UnionPay has 400,000 point-of-sale terminals that can accept the Quickpass payment modes including Huawei Pay.”


Chinese government teams up with WeChat to offer digital social security cards

China’s social security system turns to WeChat for electronic ID — South China Morning Post — “Government trials in 26 cities will have Tencent’s WeChat replace traditional state-issued social security cards with digital version tied to users’ accounts… The WeChat-based electronic social security cards will enable users to provide their identification, status, payment records and other relevant information to official online inquiries about benefits and insurance coverage.”


Guangzhou pilot lets consumers use WeChat to create an official digital ID

WeChat poised to become China’s official electronic ID system — South China Morning Post — “The WeChat ID programme was co-developed by the research institute of the Ministry of Public Security and Tencent’s WeChat team, and supported by various banks and several other government departments. The project is expected to help deter online identity theft, as facial recognition technology is used to verify applicants before their virtual ID cards get authorised. Those verified will be able to use their WeChat ID to register in hotels and apply for government services without the need of bringing their physical ID cards.”


China UnionPay launches mobile wallet app

UnionPay takes mobile payment services fight to Alibaba and Tencent with integrated app — South China Morning Post — “UnionPay said the app could be linked to more than one bank account by different banks with all of their mobile payment services accepted and conducted via the platform… The country’s dominant bank card clearing service provider also launched a nationwide promotional campaign with aggressive discounts to attract consumers who have been increasingly using Alipay and Tenpay services for shopping.”


Alipay pushes into Hong Kong, India, Thailand and the Philippines with Christmas shopping festival

Alipay to hold online 24-hour Christmas shopping festival as part of expansion push — South China Morning Post — “The event will take place in Hong Kong, India, Thailand and the Philippines with Alipay partners in each location: Hutchison in Hong Kong, Paytm in India, Truemoney in Thailand and GCash in the Philippines… As part of the December event, the AlipayHK joint venture has partnered with more than 8,000 bricks-and-mortar stores to offer exclusive gifts, discounts and rewards.”


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