Alipay HK, the Hong Kong affiliate of Alibaba-backed payment platform Alipay, announced that it won the bid to provide a QR payment program for Hong Kong Mass Transit Rail (MTR) from as early as 2020.

The announcement, issued November 15, could accelerate Alipay HK’s aggressive moves to provide services to cities outside mainland China. It also underscores the company’s ambition to play a key role in Hong Kong’s smart city plan.

According to Alipay HK, once the technology is ready, the scan-and-go payment solution will be available in 91 stations and cover around 5.8 million passenger trips per day on the city’s subway system.

Transportation transactions, which only require a quick scan at station gates, can be completed within one second, with or without an internet connection. Hong Kong MTR is still testing the new service.

Octopus Card, a physical top-up card, currently is the major payment method locals use for public transport.

Executives from Alipay HK attributed the bid’s success to mobile payment co-operation the company already has already in place with minibus and taxi service providers.

Launched in May 2017, Alipay HK is Alipay’s first e-wallet that supports currencies other than yuan. Alipay HK is supervised by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

More than 1.5 million have registered for Alipay HK’s services, and over 25,000 local vendors accept Alipay HK payments.

Runhua Zhao is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Connect with her via email:

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