Visa Study: Pandemic propels digital commerce in Hong Kong, with over half of all purchases made online and increased awareness of personal data


• Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2.0 found that most consumers in Hong Kong use less cash, while many are concerned about data privacy and security as the result of the widespread adoption of digital payments and eCommerce.
• Visa believes the future of digital commerce in Hong Kong lies in the balance between innovation and data. The study looks beyond the impact of COVID into changing perceptions and behaviours in payments, digital banking, and data privacy.


Hong Kong consumers are using more digital payments than cash for the first time – but new behaviours come with a definitive set of expectations on digital payments and banking, according to the latest research from Visa.

The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2.0 found cash usage has dropped from 91% in 2019 to 78% this year, while credit and debit card payments usage grew from 80% to 84% in the same period. All electronic payment methods saw a net increase in usage of between 31% and 41%, while a net 37% of consumers reported using less cash in the first eight months of the year.1

Maaike Steinebach, General Manager, Visa Hong Kong and Macau: “The pandemic is propelling the shift towards a cashless society. Besides eCommerce, digital banking and open data will be the twin engines that drive sustainable and responsible digital transformation. With more consumers engaged in digital commerce, we see enormous amounts of financial and personal data being generated and aggregated.”

Over half (52%) of all shopping during the pandemic was done online (vs. 40% pre-Covid-19). When the pandemic is largely behind us, Hongkongers still expect to do 45% of purchases online. Besides groceries and meal deliveries, there were increases in online purchases related to health and wellness, sports and recreational, arts and crafts, and education. The shifts in eCommerce behaviours will produce even more consumer data.

“The decline of cash and growth of digital payments have brought new opportunities to help consumers and businesses manage data risks, as well as create better user experiences. In this digital future, it is the industry’s imperative to balance privacy and security with convenience, speed and customer experiences,” added Ms. Steinebach.


Cashless paradox: digital banking and open data at a crossroad

The new consumer expectations can be seen in the drastic changes in perceptions:

  • A cash-free future is getting closer, with 1 in 4 believing that a cashless society is possible within three years, up from 19% in 2019. Preference for non-cash methods is at a record high of 77%.
  • Over half state that “no hassle” and “better hygiene” are the top benefits of a cashless society.
  • Increasing numbers of customers gravitate towards digital payments even for small transactions (63% opt for cashless for HKD100-199 transactions, vs. only 56% in 2019). 
  • Compared to 2019, Hongkongers can go cashless for longer periods of time; 41% can now manage a week or more without cash (vs 33% in 2019). Further, 42% of them carry less cash than two years ago, stating hygiene and the use of more contactless payments as main reasons.
  • Trends that provide more convenience, such as auto-payment using biometrics, paperless receipts, and ordering and paying at restaurants through mobile apps are most appealing.

Consumers’ desire for convenience is most obvious when it comes to digital banking:  

  • Two-fifth of consumers (44%) use mobile banking several times a week or more; the same number of consumers rarely or never visit a bank branch. Only 31% access digital banking services via their computer with the same frequency. During COVID, 39% have used more digital banking services and 38% plan to continue to do so after it is over.
  • Mobile banking is used the most for the majority of banking tasks, particularly for checking account or investment balances, bill payments, and P2P or merchant money transfers. P2P payments have increased by 11 percentage points from last year to 47%.
  • Getting investment advice is one of the few reasons to still visit a physical branch, though the percentage is close to mobile banking. There is an opportunity for financial institutions and fintechs to explore offering services in this underserved area. 
  • Ease of using chatbot and complaint or dispute resolutions are two areas consumers think digital banking can improve the most in terms of customer experiences.
  • Contactless cards win over other payment methods, including QR code and stored value cards, when it comes to ease of payment.

Despite Hong Kong consumers’ embrace of digital banking, there is much reservation when sharing data:

  • Despite the perceived benefits of open data in product comparison, advanced payment advice, and online application of credit financial services, only 39% of consumers are willing to share their contact details and 29% their personal details. 
  • Almost half (46%) of consumers believe that governments and companies can do more to protect their data and privacy. 
  • Majority of consumers (82%) believe there are more risks than benefits when it comes to their digital data. This is an opportunity for to educate the public on security measures taken to protect consumers.
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of consumers think they should be the custodians of their own data.  A large number (64%) would not want to sell their personal data, even for their own gain.
  • Payment networks, financial institutions, and international mobile wallet companies2 have seen the highest gain in net trust3, when it comes to comes to allowing access to personal data, now at 19%, 18% and 8% respectively.

To download the full report, visit: Consumer Payment Attitudes Study 2.0 | Visa


1 The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study is an annual quantitative survey conducted in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan. 1,600 respondents in the three markets participated in the latest research carried out in August 2020. (Hong Kong, n=500)

2 International mobile wallet companies exclude mobile wallet companies and brands that originated in Greater China region, including Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan.

3 Net trust = Sum of % Trust fully + % Trust somewhat -% Distrust somewhat -% Completely distrust


About Visa Inc.

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit  About and  @VisaNews.