At the end of the March Hong Kong started virtual banking era by granting three licenses to institutions that will offer services online instead of physical branches (Livi VB Limited, SC Digital Solutions Limited and ZhongAn Virtual Finance Limited) and are expected to launch the services in nine months.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive, Norman Chan Tak-lam said that it is a major milestone in reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a premier international financial centre and in targeting the public and small and medium enterprises as their main client base, virtual banks should help promote financial inclusion in Hong Kong. The number of licensed banks in Hong Kong will increase to 155 following the grating of the virtual bank licenses.
Guidelines for virtual banks were issued by the HKMA 19 years ago, but last year were revised by the HKMA to allow non financial firms backed by a strong parent, which may not be a financial institution, to open a virtual bank.
Standard Chartered Bank, online lending platform WeLab, Airwallex and Sequoia Capital China were among the confirmed applicants.