Hong Kong e-payment operator Octopus Cards will spend more than HK$1 million offering some 100 small businesses digital marketing support to help them capitalise on the government’s plan to give every resident HK$5,000 in e-vouchers.
A total of 108 companies will benefit from the new merchant-aid scheme, which will hire a professional digital marketing agency to help merchants set up a social media business account and provide them with a tailored promotion strategy.
Rita Li Yuk-yi, the company’s sales and marketing director, on Tuesday said Octopus would offer each merchant HK$8,000 worth of online media placement and marketing budget for promoting their stories and signature products.
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“If they don’t have Octopus e-payment systems in their shops, we will also subsidise them,” Li said. “All administration charges will be waived during the consumer voucher scheme.”
Li was referring to the government’s e-voucher scheme, which is designed to boost local spending by offering every adult resident HK$5,000 in local spending vouchers.
The plan, which is expected to start registration next month provided the system testing runs smoothly, will benefit 7.2 million people and cost the government an estimated HK$36 billion, of which HK$600 million is for administrative expenses.
Apart from Octopus, three other electronic payment service providers – AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK – will operate the programme, which is expected to give the economy a 0.7 percentage-point boost.
These businesses have stepped up efforts to promote their services, in a bid to attract merchants and consumers to join their platforms over the past two months.
Used by up to 98 per cent of the city’s 7.5 million population, Octopus will launch a webpage for visitors and shop owners to nominate their favourite hidden gems in the city, and 108 small outlets will be chosen for the new scheme’s first phrase.
These businesses need to be running for more than a year and have no more than three branches as well as 50 employees. Their locality and uniqueness will be taken into account during the selection process.
Li said individual card users would be able to check how much they had spent using the vouchers through the Octopus’ mobile application, its website or hotline.
But she could not confirm whether bus and railway fares would be covered by the vouchers, saying she had to wait for the official announcement.
Venetia Lee Wing-sze, general manager of Alipay Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, also said they had to wait for the government’s announcement when asked about whether the vouchers may be used for transport covered by the government’s existing subsidy scheme.
“If the vouchers can be used in more places, it will be more convenient for the public,” Lee said.
Refunds for items bought with the vouchers would still be available according to the company’s existing mechanisms, Lee said, while any suspected acts of cashing out the vouchers would be investigated.
Additional reporting by Chan Ho-him