The subway system in Hong Kong will allow commuters to scan a QR code as a payment method after announcing a deal with Alibaba’s payment affiliate Ant Financial last week.
According to reports, as part of the partnership, scan to pay services will be enabled in 91 MTR metro stations beginning in the middle of 2020. Commuters will use the Alipay app to scan a code at the turnstile. They will be able to add to their balances, as well, all via the app and through traditional means. It’s not clear if the payment method will be extended to MTR’s rails, buses and other transportation methods. Currently, MTR announced plans for subways only, noted reports. Ant Financial operates the service under a joint venture with Hutchison, the telecom company. The joint venture is called APSHK.
Commuters in Hong Kong can already make cashless payments via the Octopus card system, which has 35 million active cards in circulation. That covers 99 percent of the population of seven million, noted reports. Alipay’s offering could be appealing because QR code scans work in places where internet connections can be slow or spotty, and can be accessed by visitors from mainland China and other countries that already use Alipay. The deal with MTR is expected to be the beginning of APSHK’s expansion. Currently, it covers offline payments and provides support services to taxis, noted reports.
“Not only is this a recognition of AlipayHK’s technological stability, we feel confident QR Code transit technology will be successfully expanded into more aspects. Aside from gradually merging with Hong Kong’s public transports, we will also be exploring smart mobility in outbound travels by entering the most popular travel destinations of Hong Kong people, driving smart mobility across Hong Kong,” said Jennifer Tan, CEO of APSHK, according to the report.