Virtual banks set to go this week

Business | Jeannie Tang 12 Mar 2019

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority will issue the first batch of the virtual bank licenses this week, possibly five licenses among eight qualified applicants, unnamed sources told local media.

The five applicants who may be licensed include Standard Chartered Hong Kong and HKT Trust & HKT (6823), WeLab, Tencent's (0700) subsidiary Tenpay, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance (6060) and China CITIC Bank International, and Xiaomi (1810) and AMTD Group.

The other three applicants include Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial, Ping An (2318) and a consortium of Bank of China Hong Kong (2388) and JD Finance.

HKMA's spokesman reiterated that applications for virtual bank licences are progressing well. It has selected eight out of about 20 applications for final due diligence and strives to issue the license before the end of March.

"HKMA await for some applicants to submit supplementary documents, with a deadline on Monday. The authority will make a final assessment after receiving those documents. The list of license grants may change," sources said.

The business insider said although some applicants are mainland technology giants, some companies had a late start in preparation so not all of them will be granted.

Standard Chartered HK and HKT Trust & HKT has the highest chance to be licensed since HKT has a large customer base and Standard Chartered HK has experience in running virtual banks in India, the Middle East and Africa.

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