Comparing the 8 New Virtual Banks in Hong Kong

And seeing what's under their hood.

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    Hong Kong is a global financial hub and breeding ground for innovation. This is especially true when referring to businesses offering innovative financial services that make banking easier for individuals and businesses. 

    Online banking used to be one of those innovative features that were only offered by traditional banks. Now there's competition in the form of virtual banks. 

    If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is, and what virtual banks are available in Hong Kong, you’re in the right place. 

    This article will go through some of these differences while introducing and comparing the 8 virtual banks currently available in Hong Kong.  

    Traditional banks with online banking versus Virtual Banks: What's the difference? 

    Almost all traditional banks have features for online banking. This is because online banking creates many advantages for both the bank and its customers. 

    Firstly, it saves customers the stress of visiting the bank to conduct many different financial transactions. Financial tasks that once could take an hour or two out of one's day, now only take a few clicks on a computer's enter button. 

    Secondly, banking online makes managing your finances more private. This means you don’t have to worry about walking across town with large sums of cash for transactions. 

    From the bank's perspective, giving customers the ability to bank online saves the business time and money. By eliminating trivial financial tasks from everyday responsibilities, staff can work on more strategic tasks that focus on keeping an institution competitive. This is just a snippet of why online banking is a great feature for traditional banks, but what makes them different from virtual banks? 

    Virtual banks not only allow online banking, that is in fact all that they do. This means that online banking is more than just a feature, but the standard. Let’s dig a little deeper into the wonders of Virtual Banks.  

    What is a Virtual Bank?

    As mentioned, unlike traditional banks, a virtual bank offers all its services online. This means that there are no physical branches for in-person service.

    If this spikes your curiosity about the safety and security of virtual banking, then don’t worry. Virtual banks have their own security mechanisms that differ from those you see in traditional banks to help keep your funds safe. 

    With virtual banks, it is possible to perform almost all the major banking services that are available at any of your conventional banks. This is through a banking app or by accessing the virtual banks' own website. 

    Virtual banking is made possible through the use of new financial technologies or fintech. 

    Fintech eliminates the need and cost of renting a banking hall, reducing the need for human labor who provide in-person customer support.  

    You may have heard some other common terms thrown around that sound similar. Virtual banks are also referred to as neobanks, online banks or branchless banks. 

    How did Virtual Banking start in Hong Kong?

    Virtual banking started as an innovative solution to some of the pitfalls and restrictive processes offered by traditional banks.

    Here are some facts about the evolution of virtual banking in Hong Kong specifically:  

    • The first virtual banking licence in Hong Kong was issued in 2019
    • Virtual banks are under the regulation of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
    • According to the regulation, the banks are meant to be primarily concerned with retail banking.
    • They are obligated to accept all interested clients without setting any minimum account balance.
    • They are also required to have a physical head office in Hong Kong even if they don’t have branches.

    While virtual banks only came about in 2019, digital payment solutions have existed concurrently in Hong Kong providing similar services. 

    Digital payment solutions are a different alternative again to traditional banks and virtual banks. 

    What Virtual Banks are available in Hong Kong?

    There are eight virtual banks in Hong Kong. These are: 

    1. ZA Bank
    2. Airstar Bank
    3. WeLab Bank
    4. Livi Bank
    5. Mox Bank
    6. Ant Bank
    7. PingAn OneConnect Bank
    8. Fusion Bank
    9. Virtual Bank Alternative: Statrys

    You may notice we’ve included an added option here. Many virtual banks only offer services targeted to individuals or for personal banking purposes. 

    On top of this, there is a high chance of limited personalized support, no multi-currency business accounts, or targeted features that cater to businesses or Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). That is why we'll highlight what Statrys has to offer.  

    Now let’s get to know each virtual bank in Hong Kong a little better.

    1. ZA Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-ZA-Bank

    ZA Bank Limited, owned by ZA Group, was the first virtual bank to open in Hong Kong in March 2020. 

    ZA Bank claims it has the interest of the community as its top priority. This virtual bank has an inclusive sign-up policy that allows everyone to open an account with them. 

    • Launch Date: 24th March 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts, Business Accounts
    • Cards/Services: Physical and Virtual Visa Debit Card, Insurance, and Loan Services
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email, Website Live Chat

    Key things to know about the Business Accounts for ZA Bank:

    • Eligibility Criteria: Companies have to be established and incorporated in Hong Kong, the director of the company has to be in Hong Kong and present for a face-to-face meeting and all signatures have to be done in front of ZA Bank
    • Time for opening an account: Information not available
    • Account features:
      ✅​ HKD, USD, CNY supported currencies
      ✅​ Business installment, revolving term loan services available for registered clients only
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    If you would like to know more about opening a ZA Bank account, you can check out our guide here.

    2. Airstar Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Airstar-Bank

    Airstar is the second virtual bank to commence operation in Hong Kong in June 2020 and is owned by the AMTD Group & Xiaomi Corporation. 

    AMTD is a well-established financial service provider in Asia, while Xiaomi Corporation is known everywhere in the world for its mobile phones.

    • Launch Date: 11th June 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Loan Services and Foreign Exchange
    • Channels of Contact: 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of Airstar Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, Hong Kong tax residence only - Non-US person
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Accounts features:
      ✅​ HKD, USD, CNY supported currencies
      ✅​ Savings Accounts - you can withdraw the account balance when you need it
      ✅​ Time Deposit - you can put money aside for a specified period of time to enjoy a fixed interest rate that is locked in
      ✅​ Transfer Limit - HKD 10,000 (small value transfer FPS), HKD 100,000 (non-registered bank account), HKD 500,000 (registered bank account)
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    3. WeLab Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Welab-Bank

    WeLab Bank was the third bank in Hong Kong to be given a virtual banking license in 2019. It is owned by Hong Kong fintech company WeLaB Limited. 

    WeLab Limited has been providing financial services in China and Indonesia since 2013, however, ventured into the Hong Kong Fintech market to provide virtual banking in 2019.

    They entered Hong Kong with its experience and its huge capital base, acquired in its services in Asia.

    • Launch Date: 30th July 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Physical and Virtual Debit Mastercard, Loan Services, Foreign Exchange and Insurance Services
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of WeLab Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, have to be physically in Hong Kong, have a Hong Kong mobile number, have a Hong Kong residential address
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Accounts features:
      ✅​ HKD supported currency
      ✅​ Transfer Limit - HKD 30,000 and can be increased to HKD 500,000 after internal review
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    4. Livi Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Livi-Bank

    Livi Bank was opened in 2020 and is co-owned by Jingdon Digits Technology, Bank of China (BOC) Hong Kong, and Jardine Matheson Group.

    Livi Bank Limited’s goal is similar to those of other virtual banks in Hong Kong.

    • Launch Date: 12th August 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Virtual Debit Mastercard, Loan Services, and Travel Insurance Services
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Hotline, Email, WeChat, Live Chat (registered customers only)

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of Livi Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, have to be physically in Hong Kong, have a Hong Kong mobile number, have a Hong Kong residential address
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Accounts features:
      ✅​ HKD, USD, CNY supported currencies
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

      If you're interested in opening a Livi Bank virtual bank account, you can check out our guide here.

    5. Mox Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Mox-Bank

    Mox Bank opened to the public in 2020. It is owned by Standard Chartered, a popular financial company.

    Mox Bank is mostly known for providing many generous incentives to its clients, in the form of discounts and low-interest rates.

    • Launch Date: 22nd September 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Debit and Credit Mastercard, Loan Services, Foreign Exchange
      A unique feature that Mox Bank Limited claims it offers is the first bank that provides a numberless card for its founding members.
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of Mox Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, have a Hong Kong mobile number, have a Hong Kong residential address
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Account features:
      ✅​ HKD supported currency
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    6. Ant Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Ant-Bank

    Ant Bank is another early virtual banking contender that began offering its services in Hong Kong in 2019. 

    Ant Bank is owned by FinTech company Ant Financial Group, a company founded by Chinese businessman Jack Ma. It is a well-known financial institution worldwide.

    Ant Group has been providing financial solutions in many countries and continues to expand into more countries across the globe.

    • Launch Date: 28th September 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Loan Services
    • Channels of Contact: 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of Ant Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, have to be physically in Hong Kong, have a Hong Kong mobile number, have a Hong Kong residential address
    • Time for opening an account: Anywhere from 1 day to a few days after submitting all the required documents.
    • Account features:
      ✅​ HKD supported currency
      ✅​ Transfer Limit - HKD 200,000
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    7. Ping An OneConnect Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Ping-An-Oneconnect-Bank

    Ping An OneConnect Bank (PAOB) began offering virtual banking in Hong Kong in 2019.  PAOB is a subsidiary of Ping An Insurance Company, a well-established fintech business. 

    The company has a large capital base and has been using that as its selling point. It has good experience in the financial industry, which has helped it establish itself as one of the leading virtual banks in Hong Kong within a short period.

    • Launch Date: 29th September 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts, Business Accounts
    • Cards/Services: Loan Services, Foreign Exchange
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email

    Key Things to know about the Business Accounts of PAO Bank

    • Eligibility Criteria: Companies have to be established and incorporated in Hong Kong, the company doesn't have a corporate director(s)/ shareholder(s)
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Account features:
      ✅​ As of this moment, the business account only supports HKD
      ✅​ Business installment loan service available for registered clients only
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    8. Fusion Bank

    HK-virtual-banks-Fusion-Bank

    Fusion Bank Limited is a virtual bank that was established in 2020. 

    It is a joint venture set up by businessman Adrian Cheng, the owner of Perfect Ridge Limited, in partnership with The partner companies including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Tencent Holdings, and Hillhouse Capital.

    • Launch Date: 21st December 2020
    • Type of Accounts: Personal Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Loan Services, Foreign Exchange
    • Channels of Contact: 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email, Live Chat(registered customers only)

    Key Things to know about the Personal Accounts of Fusion Bank

    • Eligibility criteria: Aged 18 years old or above, have an HKID holder, have to be physically in Hong Kong, have a Hong Kong mobile number, have a Hong Kong residential address
    • Time for opening an account: Within a day to a few days
    • Account features:
      ✅​ HKD, USD, CNY supported currencies
      ✅​ Transfer Limit - HKD 50,000 and can be increased to HKD 500,000 after internal review
      ✅​ Local funds transfers and payment services (FPS/CHATS)

    9. Alternative Business Account: Statrys

    HK-virtual-banks-alternative-Statrys

    Statrys is one of the top virtual business bank alternatives in Hong Kong. Statrys provides arguably more features, services, and perks than most licensed virtual banks on this list.

    • Launch Date: 2018
    • Type of Accounts: Business Accounts only
    • Cards/Services: Virtual and Physical Mastercard, Foreign Exchange
    • Channels of Contact: Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email, Live Chat, Whatsapp, and WeChat

    Key Things to know about the Business Accounts of Statrys

    • multi-currency business account in Hong Kong
    • A EURO IBAN account
    • Virtual and physical MASTERCARD payment cards with built-in controls and limits to manage business expenses
    • FX services at competitive exchange rates (spot and forward contracts).
    • All transaction fees are cheaper than with traditional banks.
    • 85% of the clients have their accounts approved in less than 3 days.

    As you can see, Statrys specializes in business accounts for SMEs. Some other features that will help you do business include foreign exchange (FX) trading, business multi-currency accounts, and multi-user payment cards. 

    If you ever need support then Statrys will also have you looked after as Statrys has continued to provide a 100% human customer support experience, offering personalized help to all clients.

    Like other digital banks in Hong Kong, Statrys is entirely online. However, unlike some banks, an account can be opened remotely outside of Hong Kong.

    Virtual Business Accounts in Hong Kong

    Even though virtual banks are one of the newest methods of banking coming your way, making payments and managing your funds doesn't have to be restricted to a traditional bank.

    Businesses everywhere are beginning to go beyond banks by choosing digital payment platforms that offer services that virtual banks have not yet released.

    Statrys allow businesses worldwide to spend less effort and costs on sending and receiving payments with a transparent and efficient payment system. Statrys's multi-currency business account grants the ability to make payments at cheaper rates compared to traditional banks.

    Schedule a quick demo with Statrys and see how we can help streamline your international payments.

    FAQs

    What are some virtual banks in Hong Kong?

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