The subsidiaries of a slew of China’s leading fintech players have obtained licenses to operate virtual banks in Hong Kong.
On 9 May the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced that it had issued virtual banking licenses to Ant Financial (Hong Kong), Tencent’s Infinium (贻丰有限公司), Xiaomi-invested Insight Fintech HK Limited (洞见金融科技有限公司) and Ping An’s One Connect (壹账通有限公司), all of which are effective immediately.
Infinium is a joint-venture between Tencent, ICBC (Asia), Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and Perfect Ridge Limited, while Insight Fintech is a joint venture between Xiaomi and AMTD Group, who hold equity stakes of 90% and 10% respectively.
One Connect is a fully invested subsidiary of One Connect, as well as a member of the Ping An conglomerate.
HKMA has to date issued eight virtual banking licenses, with other licensees including Livi VB Limited (a joint venture between Bank of China, Jardines and JD.com Tech), SC Digital Solutions Limited (a joint venture between Standard Chartered, PCCW, Ctrip Finance and Hong Kong Telecom), Zhongan Virtual Finance (众安虚拟金融) (a fully invested subsidiary of Zhongan Technology (International) Group); and WeLab Digital Limited, the fully invested subsidiary of WeLab Holdings.
The moves also bring the number of licensed banks in Hong Kong to 160, with new licensees are expected to launch services within the next six to nine months based on existing operations plans.
Norman Chan Tak-Lam, head of HKMA, said that the launch of virtual banking in Hong Kong is a key measure for smart banking, helping to drive financial innovation, improve customer experiences and expedite financial inclusion.
HKMA first announced in September 2017 that it would introduce virtual banking to Hong Kong, before amending the “Virtual Banking Approval” on two occasions in February and May 2018.