• A customer tries to use Alipay payment service on a tablet.

A customer tries to use Alipay payment service on a tablet. (Photo : Getty Images)

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced its plan to launch on Oct. 13 its online payment service in Hong Kong (HK) in the local currency, China Daily reported.

As the company is now aiming to expand the acceptance of Alipay service among merchants in Hong Kong, Alibaba will sign up 8,000 local merchants by the end of the year, said Douglas Feagin, senior vice-president and head of international business at Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd affiliate.

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Feagin said that although only mainland tourists use Alipay when they purchase goods in Hong Kong, about 20 percent of Hong Kong consumers are already patronizing some mainland e-commerce platforms.

In August, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) gave Ant Financial the approval to become one of the first five electronic payment operators allowed to use the stored value facility licenses.

O! ePay, the local prepaid card Octopus' mobile payment service, TNG Wallet and Tencent Holdings Ltd's Tenpay, and HKT's Tap & Go, are the other approved operators.

The HK agency has only allowed Alipay to conduct online payment operations, the report said.

Feagin said that the company will first use the new license to enable local consumers to pay in convenience stores and other offline stores. After that, the company will also apply for other services such as peer-to-peer transfers, mobile payment at POS machines, and issuance of physical cards.

Feagin added that Alibaba also plans to include more offline stores into its payment platform, and to expand Alipay's merchant acceptance in other countries in Asia and around the world.

Ant Financial also announced on Tuesday, Sept. 20, that it has partnered with A.S. Watson Group, retail and manufacturing arm of the local conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, and Ocean Park, a local resort and theme park.

The company said that more than 600 Watson retail outlets in Hong Kong and some 100 stores in the Ocean Park will use Alipay service starting from September.

Fanny Ng, business publicity manager at DHC Hong Kong Ltd, expressed concern that most Hong Kong consumers now use WhatsApp and Facebook. He however, said that the company is willing to work with other e-payment operators such as WeChat and Alipay.