Adoption of NFC Technology, Grows Rapidly in Hong Kong

HKT, Hong Kong’s largest operator, has launched Tap & Go, a SIM-based mobile payment service for NFC smartphones to allow customers to pay at the point-of-sale and also facilitate person-to-person money transfers.

"Tap & Go, in every way, will redefine the meaning of money," HKT Group Managing Director Alex Arena said to the South China Morning Post.

"Money will no longer be coins, paper or even credit cards," Arena said in the Post. "Money will be your smartphone."

The Tap & Go app is offered online via Google Play. It enables users of HKT’s CSL or 1010 services to make payments at more than three million MasterCard PayPass point-of-sale terminals in stores worldwide. Users can also make online transactions. To use the Tap & Go mobile wallet account, users need to store funds in their wallets.

The customers can make transactions up to HK$1,000 ($129) and can top-up their accounts by HK$10,000 ($1,300) per day.

Those who have Tap & Go accounts can also use it for peer-to-peer transfers through the peer-to-peer mode by simply tapping their smartphone, or even remotely by phone-to-phone connections.

A user can top up their account with the PayBuddy function by up to HK$10,000 per day to do transactions of up to HK$1,000 per store, which HKT claims to be the highest among existing mobile payment services in Hong Kong.

Those who want to do automatic top-ups can do it with the credit card accounts with launch partner Dah Sing Bank. Those who opt for cash top-ups can now do at all HKT, CSL and 1010 shops.

Arena said in the Post that the old stored-value cards have been replaced with better technology. "You lose that card, you lose your money," he said. "In the new service, the money is stored back in the cloud. It's very secure. You lose your phone, you don't have to lose your money."

With the adoption of NFC technology worldwide, Hong Kong is also taking steps towards the integration of NFC so that the customers can do contactless payments easily and conveniently.

Last month, China’s leading payment service provider UnionPay partnered with Hong Kong’s ATM operator JETCO to provide a tap-and-pay payment service.

JETCO confirmed that its QuickPass near field communication (NFC) platform for contactless transactions will support UnionPay’s QuickPass credit cards later this year. Hence, smartphones with near field communication features are much needed. The system currently supports Visa and MasterCard, enabling users to swipe their mobile phones to pay for goods and services. Customers will have to link their UnionPay card with a smartphone through the SIM card.