Multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison and Chinese payments giant Ant Financial announced a joint venture to drive mobile payments in Hong Kong under the existing AlipayHK brand.

In an investor statement, the companies said they signed a strategic agreement which would “promote a more efficient and productive cashless society in Hong Kong”.

The partnership sees two of the region’s largest companies join forces to drive mobile payments in the country.

3 Group owner CK Hutchison enjoys a significant consumer presence in the region with more than 600 stores in Hong Kong selling services from the company and its subsidiaries to 6.6 million customers.

Ant Financial’s Alipay is one of two brands dominating mobile payments in China and expanded to international markets following partnerships with retailers and regional media companies.

Launched in May, AlipayHK became the first Alipay-branded app to accept payments in a currency other than Chinese Yuan. Within the first two weeks, the app attracted 100,000 active users and is now accepted in 4,000 retailers in Hong Kong. It also offers a range of loyalty and brand recommendation features integrated into the app.

CK Hutchison Group co-managing director Canning Fok said: “By leveraging CK Hutchison’s extensive market presence and combining its commercial experience with Ant Financial’s technology expertise, we will bring great benefits not only to our telecom, retail, and other customers of the Group, but also to all businesses in Hong Kong.”

Ant Financial CEO Eric Jing added: “Ant Financial is dedicated to bringing digital financial inclusion to the citizens in the region and help them to create a more convenient and productive lifestyle. We believe that our users will enjoy the tremendous benefits delivered through this strategic partnership in the near future.”

The joint venture is expected to be completed by the end of 2017, subject to regulatory approval.