Hong Kong’s first virtual bank opens its digital doors

via FinTech Futures

Za Bank, the first of Hong Kong’s new batch of digital banks, has launched operations.

The bank, an offshoot of China’s ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, gained one of Hong Kong’s eight virtual banking licences alongside firms including Ant Financial, Tencent, and Standard Chartered.

When the Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued the licences in Spring 2019 it stated it expected most of the new virtual banks to be up and running within six to nine months.

Za Bank will offer lending and deposit accounts with an annual interest rate of 1%, a figure much higher than the traditional rate offered by banks like HSBC in the administrative region.

The bank says that the rate will apply for savings of up to HKD 500,000 ($64,476), above which a basic savings rate will apply.

“Empowered by technology, Za Bank boasts a flexible system architecture and cost-effective business model, giving us the competitive edge in product development, which in turn resolves limitations on banking services in terms of time and manpower,” says Rockson Hsu, CEO of Za Bank.

“We are now ready to officially launch our services to the Hong Kong public, and we pledge to continue to improve our products and services in order to make banking even more dynamic, fun, and relevant to the everyday needs of our users.”

The new bank is using payments technology provided by US vendor Fiserv, namely the VisionPlus system.

VisionPlus is an amalgamation of Fiserv’s domestic platform and the global platform of First Data, which the vendor acquired last year.

Fiserv’s executive vice president and head of Asia Pacific Ivo Distelbrink called the deal with Za Bank “an important milestone in the financial services sector in Hong Kong and across Asia Pacific.”