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Li Ka Shing, Jack Ma join to bring digital wallet to HK

[HONG KONG] Billionaire Li Ka Shing's CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd and Jack Ma's Ant Financial unit will form a joint venture to offer a digital wallet service in Hong Kong.

The wallet will come under the AlipayHK brand which was already launched in May, CK Hutchison said in a statement on Tuesday. The mobile app will allow users to make in-store payments in 4,000 retail outlets and will also offer insurance products and food and beverage vouchers.

The venture comes after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority started granting licenses to operators last year that allowed consumers to store money in local versions of online wallets. 

The city's de facto central bank has granted five stored-value facilities licenses in total, with Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd also approved to offer digital wallets to consumers in Hong Kong.

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Canning Fok, group co-managing director of CK Hutchison, said the venture will benefit the telecommunications and retail customers of the conglomerate, which runs the Watsons health-and-beauty chain in the city.

It also helps CK Hutchison penetrate the lucrative mobile payment arena.

CK Hutchison shares gained 0.9 per cent as of 10.59am in Hong Kong Wednesday, bringing their advance this year to 14 per cent, compared with the benchmark Hang Seng Index's 26 per cent surge.

The JV is expected to be completed by the end of this year, subject to regulatory approval, according to the statement.

BLOOMBERG