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HKMA's e-bill to bring easier cross-border yuan settlement

Updated: 2012-09-05 13:39
By Oswald Chen (China Daily Asia Weekly)

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) will launch an electronic-bill (e-bill) presentment and payment system in the second half of 2013 in Hong Kong that can facilitate local residents to make cross-border yuan bill payment on the mainland.

The HKMA, which has utilized HK$17 million ($2.19 million) to develop this e-bill payment system, will enable local residents to transact on a single platform to receive, manage and pay e-bills as well as giving them full control in the bill payment process. Local banks can also save tremendous cost in processing e-bills. This e-bill system will also permit local residents using Hong Kong dollar or US dollar to make local payment in the city or cross-border payment to the mainland. This system will also cover business-to-business billing and payments.

"Approximately 10 local banks showed interest to join this e-bill system. Their e-banking clients represent nearly 50 percent of the total e-banking customers in the city," HKMA Deputy Chief Executive Pater Pang said in the Tuesday press conference, adding that the HKMA will ensure the highest security standard will be applied in this e-bill payment platform.

'With the support of the banking sector, we are confident that the retail payment infrastructure in Hong Kong will continue to make good progress and enter in a new era of diversified retail payments, thereby reinforcing the position of Hong Kong as an international finance centre," Pang envisaged.

Local banks may waive the fees to retail e-banking clients for using the e-bill payment system while they may charge a modest fee to those corporate e-banking clients for using the service.

Hong Kong has a high penetration rate of e-banking, as the average number of e-banking accounts grew 22 percent annually in the last 10 years. As at the end of 2011, there were 7.6 million individual e-banking accounts and 660,000 business e-banking accounts. In the second half of 2012, the average monthly transaction value handled by individual e-banking accounts reached HK$413 billion while the average monthly value handled by business e-banking accounts totaled HK$4,013 billion.

The HKMA will also launch the enhancement measures to the same-day cross-bank credit transfers at the retail level on September 17 that can allow payees to receive their cross-bank fund transfer payments on the same day at the earliest time.

Besides the e-bill presentment and payment system, the HKMA will also conduct a feasibility study on the adoption of an e-cheque payment system in the city. "The HKMA may probably launch the e-cheque payment system in 2014 after the feasibility study is finished at the end of 2012," Pang said.

In other initiatives to enhance other forms of diversified retail payment platforms, the HKMA also planned to carry out a consultancy study on the development of Near Field Communication (NFC) mobile payment infrastructure in the city.

The HKMA will also undertake industry consultation on amending the Clearing and Settlement System Ordinance and the Banking Ordinance to enhance the legal framework to support the development of the retail payment instruments in Hong Kong.

The relevant legislative amendment will include establishing and implementing a licensing regime for those stored value facilities providers with mobile network accounts or network-based accounts in computer systems. Currently 12 to 13 facilities providers told HKMA that they are willing to be regulated as this can enhance the system's credibility.