Faster online payment progresses

The Government today said it is examining the feasibility of accepting online payments for government services through the Faster Payment System (FPS) while at least seven of its departments have started preparatory work.   Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui told lawmakers in the Legislative Council today that such an initiative, expected to be rolled out by phases in 2022, will cover various services frequently used by the public, including applications for licences and certificates, booking and registration of services.   He pointed out that the Government started accepting bill payment via FPS QR codes in November 2019.   Currently, bills issued by the Inland Revenue Department, the Rating & Valuation Department and the Water Supplies Department, as well as general demand notes issued by the Government are printed with FPS QR codes.   As of the end of December last year, more than 1.76 million bill payments via the FPS were recorded, involving an amount of over $2.1 billion.   Additionally, FPS QR code devices have been available for use at designated counters and self-help kiosks of the Companies Registry, the Immigration Department, the Official Receiver's Office and the Transport Department since last December.   A total of seven government departments now accept payments through the FPS, Mr Hui noted.   He said the Government will keep in view market developments and continue to promote the wider use of electronic payment through appropriate financial technology infrastructure and regulations, adding that various departments will study the feasibility of extending FPS payment functions to their bills.   As the use of contactless payment is conducive to reducing the virus transmission risk in markets, the Government launched a subsidy scheme in October last year to provide a subsidy to tenants of market stalls at a flat rate of $5,000 for each stall to meet initial set-up costs as well as service and other fees related to the provision of at least one contactless payment means.   The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has received over 3,500 applications since the scheme's launch. Some tenants have also provided contactless payment means on their own without applying for the subsidies.   Noting that a series of promotional activities for tenants of the FEHD's market stalls and on-site explanations have been conducted, Mr Hui said the Government will conduct a publicity drive focusing on customers' needs to encourage market stall tenants to use contactless payment means for transactions through market forces.

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