Hong Kong is one of the financial centres of the world, with a strong banking system offering a doorway to China.
According to the Hong Kong government's official website, there are 163 licensed banks, 17 restricted license banks, and 13 deposit-taking companies in Hong Kong. These include 78 of the top 100 international banks in the world that have some form of operation in Hong Kong. Furthermore. one of the world’s largest banking institutions, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, or HSBC, was founded in Hong Kong.
It is understandable why Hong Kong is often described as the financial centre of Asia for commercial banking and personal banking.
But which of the players in the Hong Kong banking sector is best for small businesses? In this article, we'll take a look at the 7 best banks to use as well as the pros and cons of each bank.
An Overview of the Banking System in Hong Kong
For any corporation to be considered a bank in Hong Kong, it must first be granted a license by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
Hong Kong implements a three-tier system of institutions classified based on specific factors: the amount and term of deposits accepted and the nature of business. The three types of institutions are explained below. You can view the full list of these institutions here.
- Licensed banks: These are the most common banks in Hong Kong. They can operate current (checking) and savings accounts, take deposits, and accept paychecks. These institutions can freely use the word 'bank' in their name. Examples of these banks include Dah Sing Bank, Bank of China, and ZA Bank (which is a virtual bank).
- Restricted license banks: These banks can do business like an investment bank in capital markets and can take deposits greater than HKD500,000. There are only a few Restricted Licensed Banks in Hong Kong, such as Goldman Sachs Asia Bank Limited and Orix Asia Limited.
- Deposit-taking companies: These companies are associated with licensed banks and are involved in consumer finance, commercial lending, and securities. They can take deposits greater than HKD100,000 with a maturity of three months or greater. Some examples of these companies are BPI International Finance Limited and Public Finance Limited.
Every international bank in Hong Kong is regulated and supervised to ensure stability for the financial sector and the country’s economy.
The banks listed in this article are all licensed banks, each with their specialties and differences, which will be discussed below.
DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia with a presence in 18 markets, with Hong Kong being one of them. It was founded in 1968 and was previously called 'The Development Bank of Singapore Limited.'
Furthermore, DBS has been named “World’s Best Bank” by Global Finance, “World’s Best Bank” by Euromoney, and “Global Bank of the Year” by The Banker. In addition, DBS has been accorded the “Safest Bank in Asia“ award by Global Finance for 13 consecutive years from 2009 to 2021.
Globally, DBS employs approximately 36,000 employees, with a total asset held of $539.314B in 2022, according to Macrotrends.
Pros of DBS
Third-Party Integrations: Compatibility with accounting software like Xero and API integration for customized solutions.
Quick Account Activation: The account can be activated as quickly as two business days, allowing businesses to get started without much delay.
Global Recognition: Awarded as the world's best bank for five consecutive years by reputable publications, ensuring high trust and credibility.
Diverse Account Types: Offers a range of business accounts, including Corporate Account, Social Enterprise Bundle, and RMB Business Account, catering to different business needs.
Cons of DBS
Eligibility Complexity: The eligibility criteria can vary significantly depending on the account type, which might confuse some customers.
Customer Support: Limited ways to contact customer support.
Limited to Certain Currencies: While it does support multiple currencies, the list is limited to 14, which may not cover all international business needs.
|Account opening fee||Local Company Account: Min. HKD1,200
Overseas Company Account: Min. HKD10,000
Special Company Account*: Min. HKD10,000
|Monthly Service Fee||HKD250|
|Inactivity of the Account
(No transactions for 12 months with balance less than the minimum)
|HKD Corporate Accounts with less than HKD5,000: HKD150
USD Corporate Accounts with less USD600: USD25
EUR Corporate Accounts with less than EUR600: EUR25
Full list of currency accounts and fees
*Special Company refers to but is not limited to, companies in special industries such as Money Services, Jewellery, etc.
|Transfers within other DBS accounts||Free|
|Receiving (inward) a telegraphic transfer||HKD65
|Sending (outward) a telegraphic transfer||Non-local transfers
Via DBS Electronic Banking: HKD115
SWIFT Transfers (MT103): HKD240
Local transfers in HKD/USD/RMB (RTGS)
Via DBS Electronic Banking: HKD55
SWIFT Transfers (MT103): HKD200
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||HKD150 (waived for telegraphic transfers performed via DBS Electronic Banking)|
|ATM cash withdrawal (per transaction)||From Macau/China: HKD25
From China UnionPay network: HKD15/RMB15
From Visa Plus network: HKD25
HSBC is ranked 2nd on The Asian Banker list for strongest Asia Pacific bank, which evaluates banks based on their balance sheet strength.
In HSBC's latest annual report, they reportedly have assets equivalent to almost USD3 billion and employ over 68,000 people. Their global banking services serve over 60 nations worldwide, making them a top choice among local and international customers. In Hong Kong alone, HSBC employs approximately 1,981 employees.
HSBC offers a range of consumer and commercial services and is a leader in business accounts in Asia.
According to AsiaMoney, HSBC was listed as Hong Kong’s best domestic bank in 2022 and often ranks highly in global private bank awards lists.
Generally, they are the preferred bank for high-net-worth clients. However, their minimum deposit to open a personal account is only HKD1.
Pros of HSBC
- Global Presence: Renowned global presence and reputation around the world
- Ease of Access: HSBC's mobile app is well-developed for easier access to your account
- Business Services: A wide array of financial products and services available for business customers
Cons of HSBC
- High Fees: Considerably higher fees for some HSBC services like foreign exchange transactions
- Customer Support: Some customers complain about the difficulty of resolving issues with HSBC
|Account opening fee||Account application fees via online
Account Application Center: HKD1,300
Account opening facilitated by an overseas HSBC branch: HKD2,250
Special Company Account Opening: HKD11,000
An additional fee of HKD300 will be charged for each application submitted in paper form or via others channels.
|Initial deposit fee||HKD10,000|
|Inactivity of the Account||Account with previous 3 months TRB* below HKD50,000 AND Inactive for more than 1 year: HKD350 semi-annually
Account with previous 3 months TRB below HKD50,000 AND Inactive for more than 2 year: HKD450 semi-annually
*TRB: Total Relationship Balance (TRB) is calculated based on the balances in the accounts maintained with HSBC in Hong Kong.
|Receiving (inward) a telegraphic transfer||HK 65|
|Sending (outward) a telegraphic transfer||Mainland China: HKD100
To all others: HKD125
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||Max 140 characters otherwise, additional fee of HKD120|
|ATM cash withdrawal overseas (per transaction)||From the HSBC Group's ATM network outside HK: HKD20
From overseas networks/sites: HKD20
From UnionPay network: HKD50
From Visa/Plus network: HKD40
From MasterCard/Cirrus network: HKD40
The rates we've listed are as of March 2023. We encourage you to refer to HSBC's commercial tariffs for the latest information.
If you're interested, we have a guide discussing How to Open an HSBC Business Account.
3. Hang Seng Bank
Hang Seng Bank is ranked 4th on The Asian Banker list of strong Asia Pacific banks. They currently serve over half of the population of Hong Kong.
Their most recent annual report states that the bank has total assets of approximately HKD1.89 billion and employs over 8,000 people. According to Zoom Info's latest reports, Hang Seng Bank currently employs 3,367 employees in Hong Kong.
Hang Seng Bank has a comprehensive range of domestic and global services. Customers can open accounts in a range of foreign currencies.
Pros of Hang Seng Bank
- Strong Local Presence: Well-known local presence with a very solid reputation in Hong Kong.
- Focus on Innovation: Strong focus on the improvement of e-services such as Mobile Cash Withdrawal.
- Rewards Scheme: Encouraging rewards programs for bank customers such as credit card holders and Hang Seng Preferred Banking Club.
Cons of Hang Seng Bank
- Limited Global Presence: Limited international presence and bank account access from other countries.
- Limited Services: Considerably narrower range of financial products and services compared to other competitors.
Hang Seng Bank Fees
|Service||Hang Seng fees|
|Account opening fee||Biz Virtual+ Account:
Apply remotely: HKD600
Apply through Business Banking Center: HKD1,200
Integrated Business Solutions Account:
Apply remotely and through Business Banking Center: HKD1,200
Opening a Company Account in Hong Kong via Video Conference: HKD2,000
|Initial deposit fee||HKD20,000|
|Inactivity of account||Account with previous 3 months TRB** below HKD50,000 AND Inactive for more than 1 year: HKD250 semiannually
Account with previous 3 months TRB below HKD50,000 AND Inactive for more than 2 year: HKD350 semi-annually
**The Total Relationship Balance (TRB) is the sum of all your deposits, investments, credit card cash advances, and outstanding loans (except mortgages) plus the total premiums paid for your designated general insurance plans distributed by Hang Seng Bank.
|Receiving (inward) a Telegraphic Transfer||HKD65|
|Sending (outward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Remit to beneficiary account with Hang Seng in Mainland China / Macau: HKD85
Remit to a beneficiary account with another bank in HK / Mainland China / Taiwan / Macau: HKD125
Remit to a beneficiary account in other countries/territories: HKD125
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||Extra charge of HKD150 will be levied for instruction containing Chinese (except for remittance to Macau).|
|ATM cash withdraw overseas (per transaction)||HSBC ATM Network: HKD20
UnionPay ATM Network: HKD40-60 depending on the amount you withdraw (=< or > HKD5,000)
Plus/Cirrus ATM Network: HKD20
Please note that the rates we've listed are as of March 2023. We encourage you to check their fees and charges page for the most up-to-date information.
If you're looking to open a business account with the Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong, refer to our step-by-step guide to opening a bank account.
4. Bank of China (Hong Kong)
Bank of China (Hong Kong) is ranked 1st on The Asian Banker list of strong Asia Pacific banks.
Their total assets are over HKD3 trillion, according to released bank financial highlights.
They employ approximately 14,500 people and are the 2nd largest commercial banking group in Hong Kong with over 190 branches.
It will be no surprise that BOC has a full range of commercial and consumer banking services.
They were named the best bank in Hong Kong for corporate social responsibility in 2022 by Asiamoney.
Pros of Bank of China
- Hong Kong-China Network: The Bank of China boasts strong ties and networks between Hong Kong and Mainland China.
- Solid Reputation: Strong reputation and reliability as displayed by being 1st on The Asian Banker list of strong Asia Pacific banks.
- Developed Product Offerings: Wide range of financial products and services available to customers
Cons of Bank of China
- Language Barrier: Limited support in English available to customers
- Account Opening Process: A more complicated process of applying for an account, as complained by some customers
Bank of China HK Fees
|Service||Bank of China fees|
|Account opening fee||Application basic fee + special fee: HKD1,200 + special fee
Fee for the company incorporated in Mainland China: HKD2,000, plus the fee for conducting company search for company incorporated in Mainland China (according to the Bank’s actual costs).
Fee for the company incorporated overseas: HKD5,000, plus the fee for conducting company search for company incorporated overseas (according to the Bank’s actual costs)
Fee for special company (Company with 4 or more layers in its ownership/controlling structures, or Trust account): HKD5,000
|Initial deposit fee||N/A|
|Inactivity of the Account||HKD Dormant A/C: No deposit or withdrawal for 2 years AND the balance below HKD2,000.00: HKD100 every six months
Accounts with zero balance will be closed without notice.
|Receiving (inward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Remittance amount not more than HKD500 or equivalent: Waived
Remittance amount more than HKD500 or equivalent: HKD60 per item
|Sending (outward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Remittance to branches of Bank of China and Cooperative Banks in the mainland and designated branches outside Hong Kong:
Via branches: HKD240 per item
Via electronic channels: HKD100 per item
All other TT:
Via branches: HKD240 per item
Via electronic channels: HKD105 per item
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||Via branches:
Waived if message is within 10 Chinese characters or 10 English words; HKD100 per item if exceeded
Via electronic channels: Waived
|ATM cash withdraw overseas (per transaction)||
Cash withdrawal via ATMs of "JETCO" network in Mainland China/Macau: HKD20
Cash withdrawal outside Hong Kong via ATMs of “CUP” network:
From RMB account: RMB50
From HKD account: HKD50
ATM cash withdrawal via "VISA / PLUS" and "MasterCard / Cirrus" network: HKD25
Note that the rates we've listed are as of March 2023. Please refer to the fees on their website for the latest information.
If you're looking to open a business account with the Bank of China in Hong Kong, refer to our step-by-step guide to opening a bank account.
5. Citibank Hong Kong
Citibank Hong Kong is ranked 43rd on The Asian Banker list for strong Asia Pacific banks.
According to their financial disclosure statements, total assets are approximately HKD312 billion.
Citibank Hong Kong was the first foreign bank to offer services in Hong Kong in 1902, so they have a long history in the region. They also have a strong global brand, which is one of the reasons they were chosen for our list.
Citibank offers a full range of services for consumers and businesses and has a large presence in corporate banking in Hong Kong.
Citibank Hong Kong is often the chosen bank for ex-pats and non-residents of Hong Kong, and they are one of the largest credit card issuers in the country. They also offer fee-free account packages and private banking services.
They perform strongly in global private banking and wealth management awards, making their case to be placed among the top picks for best international banks.
Pros of Citibank Hong Kong
- Strong Global Presence: Citibank has a presence around the world and is well-recognized internationally
- Credit Giant: One of the largest credit card providers with a variety of available cards with rewards
- Ease of Access: Easy access to your account with Citibank's online and mobile banking services
Cons of Citibank Hong Kong
- Higher Fees: Considerably higher fees and interest rates compared to competitors
- Customer Support: Inconsistent customer support standards, as reported by some customers
Citibank Hong Kong Fees
|Account opening fee||Local Company Account: HKD2,000
Overseas Company Account (means not registered in HK) : HKD8,000
|Initial deposit fee||No minimum deposit required.|
|Inactivity of the Account||No inactivity fees but if an account has no transaction record within a period of 12 months or more, the Bank will consider it as an inactive account and will make it dormant.|
|Receiving (inward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Waived|
|Sending (outward) a Telegraphic Transfer||
Citibanking: HKD220 (physical branch)
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||N/A|
|ATM cash withdraw overseas (per transaction)||Overseas Citibank ATM/Non Citibank ATM withdrawals for Global Wallet Transactions (AUD, CAD, CHF, EUR, GBP, JPY, NZD, RMB, SGD, THD and USD): Flat fee waived
Overseas Citibank ATM/Non Citibank ATM withdrawals for Non-Global Wallet Transactions (including foreign currencies not supported by Global Wallet): Flat fee waived but add a Conversion spread for Citibank ATM/Non-Citibank ATM: Up to 2,4% per withdrawal in HKD equivalent.
Note: a Foreign exchange handling fee may add up.
Note that the fees listed are as of March 2023. We encourage you to visit their service fees page for up-to-date information.
We have a guide on How To Open A Citibank Account available if you're considering a Citibank business account.
6. Standard Chartered Hong Kong
Standard Chartered Hong Kong is ranked 9th on The Asian Banker list of strong Asia Pacific banks.
Their total assets are approximately HKD2.5 trillion, as stated in their latest financial report.
Standard Chartered Hong Kong was founded in 2004, and they do business in over 60 countries. It is one of only three banks in the country licensed to issue banknotes. Currently, they have approximately 5,500 to 5,800 employees in Hong Kong and have plans to hire 300 to 500 more as the city reopens its border with mainland China.
They offer a comprehensive array of services and are a leader in the digital banking world. They have lower fees for some services to accommodate all consumers. And they offer remote account openings, which is unusual in the region.
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong awards include:
✅ International Retail Bank of the Year by Asian Bank and Financing
✅ Digital Banking Initiative of the Year by Asian Bank and Financing
Pros of Standard Chartered Hong Kong
- Global Presence: Standard Chartered is internationally recognized with a presence in multiple countries
- Market Insights and Support: Standard Chartered offers comprehensive investment insights and in-depth market information to businesses
- Relationship Manager: Customers holding an account with Standard Chartered are provided with a dedicated Relationship Manager
Cons of Standard Chartered Hong Kong
- Higher Fees: Relatively higher fees and interest rates compared to competitors
- Slower Development in New Technologies: Standard Chartered has been slower in investing in new technologies compared to competitors, resulting in weakening their competitive edge
Standard Chartered Fees
|Service||Standard Chartered fees|
|Account opening fee||Overseas Company Account Set Up: HKD5,000|
|Initial deposit fee||Initial deposit of HKD1,000|
|Inactivity of the Account||Waived|
|Receiving (inward) a Telegraphic Transfer||HKD55|
|Sending (outward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Flat fee + additional fee (if concerned):
International Trade Account Customers: HKD140
Preferred Business Account Customers: HKD160
Business Account Customers: HKD200
Additional fee for Non-Domicile Currency TT:
International Trade Account Customers: HKD70
Preferred Business Account Customers: HKD80
Business Account Customers: HKD100 Additional fee for odd currency: HKD200
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||HKD150|
|ATM cash withdraw overseas (per transaction)||HKD withdrawal:
JETCO Network: HKD28
Visa / PLUS Network: HKD28
Mastercard/Cirrus Network: HKD28
UnionPay Network: HKD15 + 0,5% cross border
Transaction fee Foreign Currency withdrawal:
JETCO Network: No foreign exchange rate mark up fee
Visa / PLUS Network: 1.95% foreign exchange rate mark up fee.
Mastercard/Cirrus Network: 1% foreign exchange rate mark up fee
UnionPay Network: No foreign exchange rate mark up fee
The rates we've listed are as of March 2023. You can refer to the Standard Chartered Fees page for more information.
We also have a guide on how to open a business account with Standard Chartered. Learn how to apply here.
7. Bank of East Asia (BEA)
Bank of East Asia is the biggest independent Hong Kong bank and one of two family-run banks in Hong Kong. Like the banks mentioned above, they provide various banking services.
According to the latest reports, their total assets are approximately HKD908 billion.
In their multi-currency accounts, the available currencies include the Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, New Zealand Dollar, British Pound, Renminbi, Swiss Franc, South African Rand, Thai Baht, Singapore Dollar, and US Dollar.
This service is similar to what you can find with a corporate bank account at a large global bank.
Pros of Bank of East Asia
- Hong Kong Reputation: Well-known reputation and long history in Hong Kong
- Development for Asia Market: Bank of East Asia has a reputation for industry-leading improvements for customers in Mainland China, with recognition for being the first foreign bank to provide RMB cards in mainland China
- Diverse Customer Base: Bank of East Asia is well known for its range of services that cater to a diverse customer base
Cons of Bank of East Asia
- Limited Global Presence: The Bank of East Asia is not so well-known internationally, which may make it difficult to access your account and seek support when outside of Asia.
- Customer Support: Some customers have complained about the service quality and long waiting times at bank branches
Bank of East Asia Fees
|Account opening fee||HKD10,000 for local and foreign companies|
|Initial deposit fee||HKD10,000|
|Inactivity of account||N/A|
|Receiving (inward) a Telegraphic Transfer||HKD65|
|Sending (outward) a Telegraphic Transfer||Branch: HKD200 handling fee plus cable charge
Cyberbanking/Corporate Cyberbanking: HKD20 handling fee plus HKD80 cable charge
Telegraphic transfer to beneficiary’s account with BEA overseas branches: HKD100
Telegraphic transfer to beneficiary’s account with other bank: HKD130
|Including a message in payment details in Chinese characters||HKD200|
|ATM cash withdraw overseas (per transaction)||Via a JETCO ATM in Mainland China or Macau: HKD25 per transaction
Via a BEA ATM in Mainland China:
ATM card or credit card with UnionPay symbol: HKD15
Credit card with PLUS/CIRRUS symbol: HKD25
Via a PLUS/CIRRUS ATM: HKD50
Via a UnionPay ATM: HKD15
Note that the rates we've listed are as of March 2023. We encourage you to check Bank of East Asia's website to get the latest information on fees.
Alternative Business Account Solution: Statrys
All the banks listed are among the best choice in Hong Kong, but that depends on the needs of your business. Nowadays, many businesses are considering virtual banks that provide business accounts instead. Fintechs have been rising against traditional banks to provide a viable banking solution for businesses. All with a package that includes more affordable fees and a simpler process.
At Statrys, we offer payment services and a business account just as banks do. We also have a multi-currency account, and you can handle making local and international payments at more affordable rates with reliable customer support. We have over 200 reviews on Trustpilot and a score of 4.6.
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