Making it easier to open bank accounts

Top News | Joyce Chen 12 Oct 2017

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is to ease the process for people opening personal and corporate accounts with financial institutions by removing address verification requirements.

That comes with it acting on feedback, the authority says, and it means financial institutions can collect address information of customers and/ or beneficial owners without a need for other documentary evidence for anti- money laundering or counter-terrorist financing purposes.

So corporate entities only need to provide a registered address and the principal place of business when the new rules click in - likely in the first half of next year.

Firms wanting to open a bank account have until now had to provide detailed documents including the date and place of incorporation, a registration or incorporation number and registered office address in the place of incorporation.

Institutions can now commence with revisions and changes "as soon as it is practicable to do so," the HKMA says.

The authority also noted some institutions could still ask for address verification from customers for other reasons. But institutions doing so should "communicate clearly the reasons of requiring verification of address to the customer."

The HKMA arrived at the simplified procedure in conjunction with authorities including the Securities and Futures Commission, the Insurance Authority and the Customs and Excise Department.

But the HKMA is staying busy in anti-laundering activities: director of enforcement Meena Datwani said the regulator is currently investigating eight banks related to laundering, Bloomberg reported.

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