Representatives of Hong Kong's wet markets said plans to try and get stall vendors to switch to contactless payment might not work because of obstacles like poor Wi-Fi facilities, wet conditions of stalls or simply because some stall owners are unwilling.
The comments come after Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung briefly mentioned on Tuesday that the government would subsidise stall owners in wet markets to install contactless payment systems.
One market vendor already using contactless payment was the chair of the Yau Ma Tei Market Vendors Association, Chan Yuen-fai, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall there.
Chan said he started accepting Octopus payments this month, that the Octopus reader he uses was installed for free, and the 1.5 percent transaction fee was waived for the first six months, which he felt was reasonable.
He told an RTHK radio programme that as he runs a fruit and vegetable stall, it is easier for him to accept Octopus payments as he sells dry goods. But it would be hard for fish stalls to switch to contactless payments because of the wet conditions, he said.
Chan also said that Octopus readers also need to be connected to a wireless network to operate, and that the networks provided by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department have to be reconfigured every hour, which is not convenient for stall vendors.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Alliance on the Development of Public Markets, Leung Pui-shan, said that in addition to providing subsidies, the authorities also need to help some older and less tech-savvy stall owners to implement a contactless payment system.
The use of electronic payment methods in wet markets was recommended by Hong Kong University microbiologist Ho Pak-leung, who said notes changing hands at wet markets could have been a source of infection after a cluster emerged at Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan markets in August.
'Octopus payment in wet markets not feasible'
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