Jun 5, 2019

HSBC rolls out digital wallet to lure start-ups

HSBC has quietly launched its first digital wallet targeting start-ups and other small businesses in Hong Kong in an effort to fend off intensifying competition from Tencent and Alibaba in its most lucrative market. The move to expand its mobile wallet service for commercial use also may help shore up HSBC's position in Hong Kong against a challenge from two of China's biggest companies - Alibaba, through its financial services arm Ant Financial, and Tencent. The GBA project, designed to pull the former European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau closer to mainland China, is an area comprising nearly 70m people, with a $1.5tn economy that HSBC expects to grow to $2.8tn by 2025. Virtual banking services are only available to people and businesses resident in Hong Kong, meaning they provide nothing HSBC can't already offer customers, said Kevin Martin, HSBC's head of retail banking and wealth management for Asia-Pacific. The digital battle is part of a broader struggle by UK-headquartered HSBC to retain its dominant position in the semi-autonomous city, where it has a 150-year history.

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