9 in 10 Hong Kongers moved away from cash during pandemic: Visa

Payment card usage increased significantly this year, driven by security and convenience.

Visa released the results of The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 3.0, which examined consumers' preferences and emerging trends in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

The study showed that markets are at different levels of payment maturity when it comes to cashless usage. Hong Kong and Taiwan have a similar payment landscape, where payment cards (credit and debit) lead as the most used payment method, with a high usage rate of 93% and 99%, respectively. In Hong Kong, consumers are delighted with the features provided by credit cards on ease of traceability (47%), convenience in making payments (45%), personalised services and offers (43%), and security (41%). On the other hand, Macau shows a lower usage of physical cards for payments, however, the usage of card-funded mobile payments has demonstrated significant growth over the past year.

Hong Kong and Macau general manager Maaike Steinebech said, "We are delighted to see that not only consumers but also more merchants and businesses are embracing cashless payment. We see this as an irreversible trend and will continue to work closely with our partners to deliver fast, secure and convenient payment experiences and make these experiences accessible and inclusive for all."

Here are more study highlights:

Hong Kong and Macau transitioning towards a cashless society amidst the growing preference for digital payments

  • 40% of respondents from both Hong Kong and Macau expect their cities to be cashless societies within the next four years. In Hong Kong, most state ease of tracking financial records (47%), environmental friendliness (42%) and better hygiene (42%) are the top benefits of a cashless society.
  • At least one-third of consumers (Hong Kong: 38%, Macau: 34%) expect to increase their use of cashless in the next 12 months, citing reasons for appealing rewards and discounts (54%), hygiene factor (52%) and speed of transaction (48%) are main drivers.
  • Two-third of consumers (66% in 2021 vs. 56% in 2019) in Hong Kong show increasing preference to go cashless on smaller amounts of transactions as low as HKD100. Macau shows the biggest jump at the value of MOP100 (67% in 2021 vs. 27% in 2019).

Digital shopping is poised for further growth during the pandemic and beyond powered by technology

  • An app on mobile is the most common platform to shop (50%) in Hong Kong, followed by the web browser on a computer (23%) and web browser on mobile (16%). Hong Kong consumers perceive a secure payment system (40%), clear and transparent pricing (40%) and ease of checkout (38%) as top priorities for better online shopping experiences. 
  • In terms of spend category, meal delivery (69%), fresh produce (70%), health & wellness (64%) saw the greatest increase in purchases vs. pre-COVID times.
  • Livestream shopping awareness is near-universal as over 90% of respondents are aware and have tried livestream shopping, however, interest to purchase is limited to about 2 out of 10 consumers. Lower price is the biggest driver (50%) to purchase from livestream shopping, followed by product specifications clearly conveyed by the host (33%). 
  • Mobile wallets slated to grow further with better user experiences and reduced security concerns Less than one-third of Hong Kong and Macau consumers considered mobile payment a safe option (Hong Kong: 28%, Macau: 22%) in 2020, but has improved significantly over the past year with at least 60% of them believing that their personal information is very or somewhat safe in 2021.
  • Over 60% of consumers across the two markets use card-funded mobile payments at physical stores, whereas preference for non-card funded mobile payments continues to decrease. One in two Hongkongers (53%) expects to use more mobile wallets in the next 12 months, stating better offers and rewards (51%), faster transactions (47%) and pay without having to bring a wallet (40%) as main reasons.

Emerging payment trends/behaviours and tech advancement cater to evolving consumer needs

  • Up to 90% of Hongkongers have participated in loyalty and reward programs in Hong Kong. Multi-branded rewards clubs(48%) are most prevalent, followed by e-wallet (40%) and credit/debit card payment brands (37%). 
  • Moreover, at least 70% of consumers across the three markets prefer e-redemption over paper and online methods such as a mobile app to monitor their rewards.
  • Consumers find automated and seamless payment processes attractive including automatic alerts for payment method promotions (53%), in-app ordering and paying at a restaurant (53%), auto-pay through biometrics (47%) and paperless receipts on physical transactions e.g., receipts directly sent to an email account (41%). 
  • More than one-third of respondents across the three markets have used instalment plans in the last two years. Among all platforms, credit cards (Hong Kong:72%, Macau: 80%) as the instalment provider is the most popular among users, followed by e-wallets (Hong Kong: 21%, Macau: 31%). Buy Now, Pay Later platform (Hong Kong: 9%) is still in its nascent stage in Hong Kong.

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