(Yicai Global) Oct. 31 (Updated) -- Taxis in Hong Kong started accepting Alipay yesterday, said Ant Financial Services Group, the third-party payment platform of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA], on the same day.
The first fleet of dozens of Alipay-receptive taxis are already plying Hong Kong's streets, allowing passengers to pay their fares via the Alipay app or its Hong Kong-specific version, and with thousands of cabs in the city coming aboard next month, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
Ant Financial Services also held a cooperation ceremony for Alipay and Hong Kong's taxis yesterday. The first fleet of such taxis with the slogan 'Hong Kong also uses Alipay' painted on their vehicle bodies left Hong Kong Stadium to tender their services. A passenger now needs only open the Alipay app or the Alipay HK app, scan the driver's QR code and then enter the fare or let the driver scan their user payment code, and complete the payment procedure by verifying their password. An e-invoice is then sent to the passenger. Alipay does not charge any fees for the service.
Unlike mainland taxis, which cab companies manage, Hong Kong's cabs operate privately. Such diffused ownership makes it difficult to integrate e-payment into cabs. Alipay is collaborating with Hong Kong's mobile payment system developers YedPay and Valoot to integrate its payment service into Hong Kong's cabs, said Venetia Lee, Alipay's general manager for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao.
Wong Wingzhong was in the front rank of Hong Kong's first taxi drivers to accept Alipay payment. He found it very convenient to use the app when taking cabs on the mainland, he said, and so registered to open a personal Alipay account after returning to Hong Kong allowing him to accept Alipay payment.
Alipay's official acceptance by Hong Kong's taxis will make it more convenient for drivers and passengers, Wong said, adding that passengers can see mileage and fares on a real-time basis, with fares directly settled in Hong Kong dollars, thus obviating currency exchange woes.
A mainland tourist visiting Hong Kong surnamed Zhang said she has grown accustomed to paying fares with mobile phones on the mainland and finds it inconvenient that mobile payment is not more accepted in Hong Kong. She believes that taxi services are an important part of a city's tourism portfolio and Hong Kong taxis' acceptance of Alipay represents an upgrade to the city's tourist services.
Alipay's availability will tighten the partnership between it and Hong Kong's smaller merchants and help taxi drivers improve operating and fee-collecting efficiency, Lee said, adding that she hopes it will also contribute to the special administrative region's efforts to build a smart city.
Alipay HK debuted in May, supporting payment in Hong Kong dollars. The app attracted over 100,000 active users in the first two weeks of release. More than 10,000 merchants in Hong Kong now accept Alipay and some 5,000 take Alipay HK.
Alipay has thus far covered payment channels for dozens of travel methods globally, encompassing airlines, cruise ships, ferries, subways, rent-a-cars, ride-hailing cars and double decker sightseeing buses on five continents.