ZA Bank first to roll out virtual service

Business | Stella Zhai 19 Dec 2019

ZA Bank, the virtual bank subsidiary of ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance (6060), became the first to launch the service that will have a trial operation for 2,000 selected Hong Kong users through the Fintech Supervisory Sandbox by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The trial operation provides ZA Fam members, ZA staff and their family and friends with banking services, including online account registration, multi-currency savings, local money transfer and eStatement services.

Arthur Yuen, deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said the HKMA will closely monitor its operation and communicate with the bank, which will make adjustments when necessary.

Retail customers and small and medium-sized enterprises are the target customers of virtual banks, he wrote in a blog on HKMA. "To start off, the virtual banks plan to provide basic banking services such as deposits, loans and inter-bank transfers."

The HKMA believes that as virtual banks gain a better understanding of their customers' preferences and habits over time, they will leverage financial technologies to offer more personalized products and services, and a new user experience to customers, Yuen said.

"Since the eight virtual bank licensees were announced, quite a few other institutions have approached the HKMA and expressed an interest in applying for a new licence, suggesting strong market confidence in the industry's prospects."

The market expects half of the eight licensed virtual banks will launch their services in the first quarter of next year.

Eddie Yue Wai-man, chief executive of the HKMA, said last month that the first batch of virtual banks is expected to start operations by the end of this year or early next year.

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