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Hang Seng Bank to test programmable payment

The HKMA launched the eHKD pilot scheme earlier, and Hang Seng Bank is one of the banks with three selected use cases, including programmable payment for merchant reward schemes and disbursement of government qualifications, as well as tokenized deposits. Mr. Lee Man Lung, Director of Strategy and Corporate Development and Head of the Chief Executive's Office of Hang Seng Bank, said that for the first two use cases, four real-world simulation tests were successfully completed in September, with more than 100 participants including faculty and students of The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hang Seng staff, and seven merchants, including Hung Fook Tong, PacificCoffe and FlashCoffee, processing more than 500 simulated digital Hong Kong dollar transactions. Over 500 simulated digital Hong Kong dollar transactions were processed.

Mr. Lee said that according to the survey conducted after the completion of the test, 81% of the individual participants were positive about the analog digital Hong Kong dollar and its e-purse, 83% of the respondents thought that programmable payments exceeded their expectations, and 87% of the respondents thought that traceability exceeded their expectations. Tina Cheng, Associate Director, Strategy and Corporate Development, Hang Seng Bank, added that respondents were also concerned about the security of the digital Hong Kong dollar and its popularity. Hang Seng will then work with HSBC and Visa on central bank digital currency use cases to explore tokenized deposits.

In terms of merchant payment and reward programs, merchants use the hypothetical digital Hong Kong Dollar wallet programmable function to instantly design and distribute coupons with specific purposes to target customer segments, allowing participants to spend on-site. According to Mr. Wong Tak Ming, Head of Global Payment Solutions, Hang Seng Bank, the main purpose of this aspect is to help SMEs to grow their business. At present, compared with the large-scale enterprises launching reward programs, if the above scenario can be popularized, SMEs will be able to distribute concessions to their target customers without the need to invest a large amount of resources and technology.

He pointed out that, compared with the current situation where different shopping malls or merchants launch different coupons, which require manual registration and distribution, and consumers holding different coupons will have inconvenience in using them, digital Hong Kong Dollar can save the relevant manpower and resources, and merchants do not need to re-design the coupons, and they can be credited instantly. Large merchants which originally have a membership system can also make use of the wallet to distribute concessions and rewards to more potential users and to bundle the analog and digital Hong Kong Dollar for consumption. The wallet can also be used by large merchants that already have a membership system to offer discounts and rewards to more potential users, and to bundle analog digital Hong Kong dollars for spending. Consumers will be able to manage and utilize offers from different merchants and make quick payments from the one-stop ePurse, replacing the less convenient paper gift certificates.

Participants are also involved in person-to-person transfers, which are personalized through the digital wallet by setting transfer conditions, such as the time limit for the use of funds and designated purposes. According to Mr. Lee, this can be applied to practical scenarios, including employers providing funds to their domestic helpers for grocery shopping, which can restrict the purpose and time of using the funds to avoid the domestic helpers from using the funds for personal use, and at the same time, it has the ability of traceability and monitoring. It can also be used in scenarios where parents give pocket money to their children and set the use of the pocket money, such as paying school fees and using it for meals.

On subsidy disbursement, Cyberport makes use of a hypothetical digital Hong Kong dollar wallet. Cyberport makes use of a simulated digital Hong Kong dollar wallet to issue merchant vouchers with designated purposes and expiry dates to about 30 Cyberport community enterprises which have signed up for the real-life simulation test.

According to Mr. Lee, in the future, this scenario can be applied to government organizations for disbursing grants or subsidies to the public for specific purposes, such as consumer vouchers, healthcare vouchers, elderly community care service vouchers, etc. The purpose and duration of the vouchers can be set through programmable functions, and the vouchers can be disbursed automatically by instalments, so as to avoid misuse of the vouchers.

At the same time, government funding schemes in support of SMEs, such as technology vouchers, can be incorporated into smart contracts through programmable functions. When the SMEs receiving the approved funding meet the relevant requirements, the system will automatically disburse the funding to the corresponding e-purse, which will become the disposable funds for the SMEs.

Upon completion of the test, according to the survey, all participating merchants responded very positively to the possibility of customizing offers and rewards on the simulated digital Hong Kong Dollar wallet, which helped them to expand their business. All participating merchants agreed that they were able to experience a fast and efficient digital payment experience in the simulation test, and that all transactions were very smooth.

In addition, merchants also considered that analog digital Hong Kong dollars could reduce operating costs and enable more effective analysis of customer data. Some participating merchants who are still using paper coupons indicated that the analogue digital Hong Kong dollar wallets can help them understand the usage of rewards and the spending habits of customers, which can provide a basis for future analysis and launching of more personalized rewards programmes.

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