3 Virtual Banking Licenses In Hong Kong’s First Wholesale

On March 27, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said that it issued the first three virtual banking licenses and is actively promoting the other five. Standard Chartered Bank, BOC Hong Kong and Jardine Matheson Group, Zhong An Online received the first batch of virtual banking licenses from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

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The Director of the HKMA, Mr Chan Tak-lin, said that the introduction of virtual banking is a key step for Hong Kong to move towards a “new era of smart banking” and a milestone in enhancing the advantages of Hong Kong’s international financial centre. It is believed that in addition to promoting the development and innovation of Hong Kong’s financial technology, virtual banks can bring better experiences to users and promote the development of inclusive finance.

According to the HKMA, Livi VB Limited is a joint venture established by BOC Hong Kong, JD.com and Jardine Matheson Group, of which BOC Hong Kong is the controlling party. SC Digital Solutions Limited is a joint venture established by Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), PCCW, Hong Kong Telecom and Ctrip Financial, with Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) as the controlling party. Zhongan Virtual Finance Co., Ltd. is a joint venture established by Zhongan Group and Baoshi Group. ZhongAn Online is the controlling party.

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According to Qi Guoheng, vice president of the HKMA, the three financial institutions that are expected to obtain licenses will launch virtual banking services within three to six months. At the same time, the HKMA is currently actively processing another five virtual banking license applications.

According to a series of measures announced by the HKMA in September 2017 towards the “new era of smart banking”, Hong Kong will introduce virtual banks. Since then, the HKMA has further clarified that virtual banking licenses will be issued at the end of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.