Hong Kong’s Virtual Banks – 1 launched, 3 in pilot and 4 in preparation

Mox Bank board members. Image credit: Mox Bank Limited.

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr. Christopher Hui, provided an update on Hong Kong’s virtual banks.

Mr. Hui’s update said that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) granted, eight banking licences to new virtual banks in the first half of 2019.

One of these banks has now started operations. Three are undergoing a pilot trial in the HKMA’s FinTech Supervisory Sandbox – in which provision of their services is limited to a set group of customers. And the remaining four virtual banks are continuing with their preparatory rework towards launch.

Mr. Hui also noted that COVID-19 has delayed the launch of some of these virtual banks.

Virtual banks are defined in Hong Kong as banks that primarily provide their services through the internet or other electronic channels rather than through physical branches.

With regards to whether the HKMA will grant more virtual bank licences to other organisations (given the strong demand that has manifested for these licences), Mr Hui stated that the HKMA will assess the impact of the existing virtual banks after they commence business, and then decide whether to grant new virtual bank licences.

The firms that have secured virtual bank licences in Hong Kong are:

  1. Airstar Bank Limited (formerly called Insight Fintech Hk Limited)
  2. Ant Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (formerly called ANT SME Services (Hong Kong) Limited)
  3. Fusion Bank Limited (formerly called Infinium Limited)
  4. Livi VB Limited
  5. Mox Bank Limited (formerly called SC Digital Solutions Limited)
  6. Ping An Oneconnect Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (formerly called Ping An Oneconnect Company Limited)
  7. WeLab Bank Limited (formerly called WeLab Digital Limited)
  8. ZA Bank Limited (formerly called Zhongan Virtual Finance Limited)

Of these, the one that has already launched operations is ZA Bank. The firms currently in the HKMA’s FinTech Supervisory Sandbox undergoing their three-month pilot programmes are Ant Bank, Airstar Bank and Mox Bank.

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