HKMA Grants Four More Virtual Bank Licences

Ant Financial, Tencent, ICBC Asia, HKEX, Xiaomi and Ping An are among the backers of the four licence recipients, bringing the total number of virtual banks in Hong Kong to eight.

The HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) has granted four more virtual banking licences.

The approvals follow three licences granted in March to joint ventures applicants and a fourth granted in April to a standalone company.

The newly licensed banks are:

  • Ant SME Services (Hong Kong) Limited, which is wholly owned by Ant Financial;
  • Infinium Limited, a joint venture between Tencent, ICBC’s Hong Kong unit, HKEX, Hillhouse Capital and Perfect Ridge;
  • Insight Fintech HK Limited, which is 90% owned by Xiaomi and 10% owned by AMTD Group; and
  • Ping An OneConnect Company Limited, which is wholly owned by OneConnect, a member of China’s Ping An Insurance Group.

The four newly licenced virtual banks intend to launch their services in around 6 to 9 months.

“We are pleased to grant four more virtual banking licences today. The HKMA is now working closely with the 8 virtual bank licensees to prepare for the launch of their business operations in accordance with their plans,” said HKMA chief Norman Chan.

“The launch of virtual banks in Hong Kong, which is a key component of the Smart Banking Initiatives, will certainly facilitate financial innovation, enhanced customer experience and financial inclusion.”.

The HKMA will “closely monitor” the operations of virtual banks once they commence business, including customers’ reactions to the new delivery modes for financial services, as well as the impact the virtual banks have on the banking sector in general.

A comprehensive assessment of the situation will be conducted about one year after the first virtual bank has launched, the HKMA said.

The four other virtual banks already announced are:

  • Livi VB Limited, which is co-owned by BOCHK, JD Digits and Jardines;
  • SC Digital Solutions Limited, a joint venture between Standard Chartered, HKT, PCCW and Ctrip Financial;
  • Virtual Finance Limited, a joint venture between ZhongAn Online and Sinolink; and
  • WeLab Digital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of WeLab Holdings

Including the four new virtual bank licencees, Hong Kong now has 160 licensed banks.

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