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Financial Secretary


Staying abreast with the times and keeping our mission firmly in mind

Following the announcement of the Consumption Voucher Scheme (the Scheme), the Government, Stored Value Facility (SVF) operators and merchants have all been working to explain the details of the Scheme or roll out various promotional offers. Many people are talking about the Scheme, from its registration procedure to promotional offers provided by e-wallet operators to plans to use the consumption vouchers. Some even said they had already enjoyed the promotional discounts. Discussions about the Scheme have somehow lifted the overall sentiment. It is expected that this positive atmosphere can boost local consumption, accelerating economic recovery through the multiplier effect.

Yesterday I visited a wet market and used different e-wallets for payment.

User experience depends on the actual operation of the Scheme. To help people better understand the Scheme, we are reaching out to different groups and sectors to explain its details and have summarised the frequently asked questions as follows:

  1. The consumption vouchers will be disbursed in instalments. Should I register for each instalment?
    No. Eligible persons need to register only once and the vouchers will be disbursed in instalments according to the timetable.
  2. For consumption vouchers received through AlipayHK, WeChat Pay HK or Tap & Go, do I need to use the first voucher in order to collect the second one?
    No. Even if you have not used the first voucher, the second voucher will still be disbursed according to the timetable. You can use the two vouchers together. In other words, if you have not used the first voucher ($2000), you can use it with the second one ($3000) i.e. using two vouchers worth $5,000 in total.
  3. For consumption vouchers received through Octopus, can the vouchers be used for paying transport expenses?
    Transport expenses are covered by the consumption vouchers, whether the vouchers are received through Octopus or other e-wallets.
  4. E-payment is not that popular in Hong Kong. Are we ready for the Scheme?
    E-payment and online shopping are the major retail industry trends, providing people with more personalised products and services while allowing merchants and enterprises to expand their businesses and launch creative marketing campaigns. The Scheme will offer more incentives for people to use e-wallets and help create an e-payment platform in Hong Kong.

In fact, the use of e-wallets is not as remote as some have suggested. Even in wet markets in some older districts, quite a number of stalls have already installed e-payment devices. Many people prefer using them to avoid small changes in cash in day-to-day shopping. Yesterday, I visited some wet markets, stalls and restaurants in different districts and talked to many people. I used e-payment and enjoyed the cashless spending experience!

I enjoyed the chats with the people when I visited the wet market.
I enjoyed the chats with the people when I visited the wet market.

With the launch of the Scheme and the promotional offers provided by SVF operators, consumers will be more willing to take the first step to use e-wallets more frequently. Competition among the operators will also help gradually lower the service charges of e-payment for consumers and merchants. More importantly, with the wider adoption of e-payment and e-commerce by consumers and merchants, the transaction efficiency at retail level could be enhanced and the transaction cost lowered. At the same time, more effective use of data and matching of services across sectors could be achieved. With research and innovation, new opportunities could always be found and new services created. The flexibility, efficiency and popularity of e-payment could help merchants and start-ups launch new services and products to tackle customers’ pain-points.

To press ahead with the digital transformation of Hong Kong’s economy, we have been working to encourage more enterprises to enhance operational efficiency and expand businesses with the adoption of technology with a view to applying such technology in other areas. Apart from promoting e-payment at retail level, we are also taking forward research work on deepening the use of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). In the coming year, we will continue with the trial use of CBDC in cross-border trade payment and step up our preparation in using CBDC at the wholesale and retail level in Hong Kong, including conducting study on the retail use of e-HKD. We will also continue to collaborate with the People’s Bank of China to conduct technical testing of e-CNY in Hong Kong, with a view to providing convenient cross-border payment services to residents in the Mainland and Hong Kong.

From retail payment platforms to CBDC, technological advancements have brought about challenges and opportunities to our economy and stimulated the development of new applications and services. Developing innovation and technology as a new industry, riding on the strategic development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and developing green finance to grasp the enormous opportunities brought by green and sustainable development have all created growth impetus and development space for Hong Kong. These will also facilitate our young people to have greater room of development and more options when pursuing their dreams. I met with some young people yesterday and we shared our thoughts on the future. While feeling frustrated at times, the young people are hopeful about their career. I am deeply impressed by their passion for their work and willingness to try and innovate.

Yesterday I also took the chance to met with some young people, and we shared our thoughts on Hong Kong’s future social economic development.

With the solid support of our Country and the implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” in our system, I believe Hong Kong will continue to thrive and prosper and our young people will have more career development opportunities. The celebration of the 24th anniversary of the establishment of HKSAR coincides with the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China. In modern Chinese history, our Country has overcome difficulties and successfully charted our own path of development and institutional building. In the new era under Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, the “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement is unprecedented and its objectives are clear, namely, upholding pragmatism and fighting for the well-being of the people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

June 27, 2021

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