Since the beginning of the pandemic, and as in some other countries, the Hong Kong government has financially supported companies as well as individuals. I don’t have the eligibility criteria for companies, but for individuals, if you are a permanent resident, i.e. a local living in Hong Kong or an immigrant living and working in the country for more than 7 years, there was a first help of 10.000HK$ (the equivalent of $1290US) last year directly credited into your bank account. (1)
In a few days, the Hong Kong government will give again a 5000HK$ ($645US equivalent) allowance called “Consumption Voucher“. But this time to permanent residents as well as to ordinary residents who have been in the country for less than 7 years like me. All you must do is go to a website, enter your Hong Kong identity card number, answer 3 questions, certify that you have not spent more than 24 consecutive months outside the territory lately, and finally choose where you want the funds to be credited (I registered, I am waiting for the confirmation).
And this is where the government seems to have played it right: In Hong Kong, as in Mainland China, there are several digital wallets and mobile applications for electronic payments such as WeChat Pay, AliPay, Octopus Card or Tap & Go (2). And this time, no transfer to a bank account, you must choose one of these 4 electronic payment methods to receive financial support, knowing that the payment applications will restrict spending only for payment at small shops. It is impossible to transfer funds from the mobile application to a bank account or to a friend as usual, and it is also impossible to pay taxes, electricity, gas, and water as is normally possible. Only the Octopus card will allow you to withdraw 1000HK$ in cash if needed. On top of that, there is a 6-month delay to spend the aid. These electronic payment methods are daily used by Hongkongers to pay for small and medium-sized everyday shopping, groceries, public transport, restaurants, car parks…
Two things come to mind here. First, I think it is smart that this money is “forced” to be spent in the real economy of small and medium-sized businesses around the corner and not to play online, buy stocks or Cryptos as we have seen a lot in the US for example with the trillions that have been printed lately. So, it is the local economy that will directly benefit and that’s not a bad thing by these days.
But then I realize how a government can entirely decide how and how fast we should spend our money via electronic means of payment, which are certainly super convenient but totally under control. And now I am just shivering because, in a few years, we will not have a choice, we will be going through this… Can you imagine the story? We will not be able to really control our money or salary (well our universal income), and we will be forced to spend it here or there according to the market’s needs… It is terrifying but it happens… at least it is the plan of Santa Klaus Schwab… And as a result, the “Consumption Coupon” given by the government will be transformed into a “Rationing Coupon“.
Folks, I count on you not to let this happen…
May peace fall upon you.
(1) If you are an immigrant, living and working in Hong Kong for more than 7 consecutive years, you are eligible for a “permanent resident” card which allows you to stay and work, enter, and stay for more than three months without needing a visa. Otherwise, you only have a “resident” card, and you must prove that you are employed in Hong Kong to be able to stay there… It should be noted that acquiring the nationality and thus a Hong Kong passport is almost impossible for an immigrant because, according to what I heard, you must prove that you are Chinese, and for a French Italian like me it will be a bit complicated, and even if I marry a local it doesn’t change anything.
(2) AliPay is the online electronic payment system of the Alibaba group. WeChat Pay is the payment system backed by the overpowering social network WeChat owned by Tencent. See my article here. Octopus Card was originally a kind of Card to pay for public transport and little by little everyone has installed a payment terminal, so you can pay for almost everything with your Octopus card in Hong Kong. Tap & Go… I don’t know, it’s quite recent, but it doesn’t seem to be very widespread.