| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Chinese online and mobile payment platform Alipay on Wednesday launched in Hong Kong its first app to handle transactions not denominated in the yuan currency, moving closer to its ambition of widening currency payment options.
Payments through AlipayHK, which handles mobile payments in Hong Kong dollars, will be accepted at more than 2,000 stores in the city from Thursday, said Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group affiliate that runs the platform.
"Introducing local currency mobile payments to Hong Kong is an important step forward in Ant Financial's mission to bring our services to more users in more markets," said Douglas Feagin, the company's president of global business.
The effort will help the company, which competes against Tencent Holding's WeChat Pay, to extend its reach in offline commerce beyond mainland China.
Alipay now has more than 450 million active users and payments through it are accepted at more than 2 million brick-and-mortar merchants across China, the company says.
Its standard app is already supported in more than 120,000 retail stores in 70 overseas markets via local partners, including the United States, but transactions are executed in yuan.
As many as 8,000 retailers in Hong Kong already accept Alipay's yuan-based app, and the new app will soon extend to them, said Alipay Hong Kong's general manager, Venetia Lee.
(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)