Banking—it’s not the most thrilling of topics and can even be difficult to navigate on occasion, but fear not, because this isn’t your grandma’s age of financial services. As the hub of innovation and fintech, Hong Kong has paved the way to a new wave of virtual banking options—all giving the old brick and mortar branches a bang for their buck.
Currently, there are eight digitally native banks currently licensed, each launching with unique services and features but all promising fast set-up, better security, and enticing offers. How do you know which virtual bank is for you? As luck would have it, we have detailed all their key features here. Here’s everything you need to know about virtual banking in Hong Kong.
Standard Chartered has teamed up with PPCW, HKT, and Trip.com to bring you Mox Bank, the all-in-one app for your essential banking needs. As a virtual bank, all you need to set up a Mox account is a smartphone, a Hong Kong identity card, and a little time to spare. If you think whipping up a bowl of instant noodles is fast, opening up a Mox account will take less time than that!
Adding to its seamless experience, Mox has a few different features that take banking to a different level of cutting-edge: a swanky numberless card, a savings calculator tool with real-time progress tracking to help build towards your money goals, and spending insights, which is a feature that can come in handy when you know you might be buying one too many morning coffees. If you’re easily enticed by bank offers, Mox has some, and they are pretty cool, too. Aside from offering those who bank with them exclusive perks at Sephora and HeyPark, this is also probably the only bank that holds masterclasses. Learn more about Mox here.
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Livi Bank has a few household names backing them up: Bank of China, the Jardine Matheson Group, and Mastercard, just to name a few. Like its competitors, this virtual bank has a mobile app that tracks your spending for you and takes minutes to sign up for.
If you’re looking for a sleek, new virtual debit card to add to your wallet, Livi is probably what you want to sign up for. Earlier this month, the bank announced its partnership with Mastercard, introducing cashback perks of up to eight percent. The virtual bank also has a slew of other perks for its incredibly online customers, such as referral offers and a quirky “shake shake” function for cash rewards. Did we mention Livi lets you check your Yuu rewards point balance on their app? From one Hong Kong legend to another, there’s never been a better virtual crossover. Learn about Livi here.
You might be hearing a lot of buzz around ZA, a “community-driven” bank established by ZA International. With its first anniversary (or birthday, as the bank lovingly calls it) coming up, ZA has been making moves, offering its customer base exclusive deals. For now, customers can enter their “Power Draw” competition for a chance to earn rebates of up to 324 percent, with more prizes to be announced soon.
One distinctive feature of ZA is the attention the bank pays to security. A built-in feature of the app is the ability to lock and unlock your card, coming in extra-handy for those of us prone to losing our things! You’ll also receive notifications for every transaction made with your card and have control over transaction limits. Some other ZA perks: You’ll receive cash rebates on Deliveroo orders and buy-one-get-one coffee upon purchase at select stores, such as The Coffee Academics, Omotesando Koffee, and more. A great steal, if you ask us. Learn about ZA Bank here.
An Alibaba affiliate, Ant Bank is the digital arm of Ant Group and launched late last year as the sixth licensed virtual bank in Hong Kong. Beyond a quick set-up process and twenty-four-seven customer support, Ant Bank customers can also easily transfer money through FPS payments and enjoy higher interest rates, but its most compelling feature is its joint venture with mobile paying service Alipay. Learn about Ant Bank here.
Established in 2013, WeLab is Hong Kong’s leading fintech company and homegrown virtual bank. In the seven years since its inception, the company has found over 45 million registered users in Hong Kong, mainland China, and Indonesia, making it a competitive player to the other virtual banks listed. WeLab offers services such as online lending, twenty-four-seven banking support, as well as Hong Kong’s first socially-driven time deposit. For first-time users, WeLab is offering exclusive cash rewards with Sogo—exciting! Learn about WeLab here.
As one of the earlier virtual banks to launch, Airstar is a joint venture of Xiaomi and AMTD Group, offering banking services like savings accounts and time deposits. Its core mission is to deliver emerging financial technologies and solutions to its customers accompanied by stellar service. For customers, Airstar’s attractive interest rates of up to 3.6 percent per annum are a huge draw as well as its ability to enable FPS transfers and interbank transfers of HKD, USD, and CNY. Learn more about Airstar here.
Fusion—not the supermarket—is a joint venture between Tencent Holdings, ICBC, HKEC, and Hillhouse Capital, as well as renowned Hong Kong entrepreneur Adrian Cheng. Previously known as Infinium, Fusion Bank was granted its virtual banking license back in 2019, and its primary draw is that it collaborates with WeChat Pay to enable easy cross-border payments. Within two weeks of its launch, it signed on 10,000 customers eager to test out its secure virtual banking services. Learn about Fusion here.
Ping An, China’s largest insurance company, established its virtual banking system last year, aiming to cover services for small or micro-enterprises. Ping An One Connect Bank allows SMEs to open corporate bank accounts and promises to approve loans of up to two million in five business days, in addition to easy online self-service and no minimum balance requirement. Learn about PAO here.