LU study finds half of wet market vendors have not installed electronic payment tools for Consumption Voucher Scheme

24 Jun 2021

A Lingnan University (LU) survey finds half of wet market merchants have not installed electronic payment systems required by the Consumption Voucher Scheme (the Scheme), although 20 per cent would consider accepting Octopus and 30 per cent Alipay or WeChat Pay, showing that the Scheme help popularise electronic payments.


The research team from LU’s Hong Kong Institute of Business Studies visited 20 wet markets in Hong Kong between April and June 2021 to survey market vendors’ acceptance of electronic payments and their understanding of the Scheme. 287 valid responses were collected, more than 80 per cent from individual businesses and some 10 per cent from chain businesses. Respondents included businesses selling fresh meat, seafood, fruit, groceries, pharmaceutical products and clothing.


Half of the market vendors (52%) accept electronic payments, and the most used platforms are: WeChat Pay (31.7%), Alipay (31%t), Octopus (25.8%) and PayMe (7.7%).


About 65 per cent of respondents knew of the Scheme, but only 37 per cent were interest in participating. More than 60 per cent expressed that they have no intention to join (41%) or were still considering joining (22%). The main reasons were: complicated registration procedures (35.7%) and limited effects in boosting sales (29.7%). With regard to vendor satisfaction, 28 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the Scheme and believe it will encourage consumption, but 40 per cent were dissatisfied because their customers, mainly of a higher age group, have difficulty in using electronic payments. Some vendors also were concerned that the Scheme would benefit large enterprises rather than small businesses.


Survey results also indicated a correlation between market vendors’ understanding of the Scheme, their willingness to participate and level of satisfaction towards the Scheme and sales forecasting. Of the vendors who understand the Scheme well, 54 per cent wished to join, 46 per cent were satisfied with it, and 83 per cent believe the Scheme would boost their sales. These figures dropped to 12 per cent, 12 per cent and 16 per cent respectively among vendors with a poor understanding of the Scheme.


The research team suggests that the Government should promote the Scheme better and give market vendors who accept electronic payments preferential treatment. Electronic payment service providers should target their advertising to address market vendors’ concerns, and emphasise that electronic payments are "fast, safe and accurate" as key features. In addition, they could offer discounts, waive or reduce installation and handling fees, and provide on-site training to encourage participation.


The team also advises the Government and service providers to deliver talks to education consumers who are not familiar with electronic payments. They suggest vendors put up posters demonstrating how to use electronic payment tools in steps to help customers. Service providers could cooperate with vendors to stimulate consumers' spending with coupons or stamps, and policy makers could consider launching consumer vouchers for specific small shops. For example, wet market consumer vouchers could benefit small businesses and popularise electronic payments. To avoid misuse of resources and stimulate consumption, the Government should actively discourage vouchers being exchanged for cash.