Save the hassle of waiting for hours at a bank and set up your savings account online instead. Here are eight virtual banks in Hong Kong for speedy transactions, and yes – they are trustworthy.
It’s the 21st century, we don’t have flying cars (yet?) but it’s safe to say that the majority of our day-to-day life is made easier by online apps. Just swipe through your handy smartphone, from flexible food delivery, numerous fashion options, and even finding the love of your life on dating apps (take this with a grain of salt), there’s no denying that online apps have made life more efficient. On that note, let’s talk about the eight virtual banks in Hong Kong that can easily be controlled and monitored online.
But first, let’s drop some deets and facts…
What is virtual banking?
In short, when it comes to virtual banking, everything is done online. Virtual banks do not have physical branches, but they must have one physical office in Hong Kong in order to handle client enquiries. With the efficiency of fintech, you can download the banks’ respective apps to make an account and carry out transactions, deposits, withdrawals, and take loans with personalised banking services.
Unlike physical banks, you don’t have to worry about having a minimum account balance or low-balance fees. For most cases, you just need to be over 18 and prove your Hong Kong residence to open an account, wooty woot.
Perks of being a virtual client? You don’t have to wait in line at the bank or worry about banks shutting early in the afternoon. Virtual banks are accessible anytime, anywhere.
How safe are virtual banks in Hong Kong?
All of these virtual banks are licensed and regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), much like all the physical banks in Hong Kong. Plus, under the Deposit Protection Scheme, deposits up to $500,000 are protected by the Hong Kong government, even if the bank liquidates.
Eight virtual banks in Hong Kong
1. ZA Bank
ZA (ZhongAn) Bank is perhaps the most well known one amongst this list, having been established as Hong Kong’s first virtual bank. Registering for an account takes as little as five minutes, and new users can enjoy up to $400 cash rewards. If you’re prone to losing your card(s), worry not – with the facial recognition system from ZA, there are very slim chances of identity fraud. Transactions big or small require an authentication to maximise security.
Plus, you get to pick the last six digits of your ZA Card which can be used in over 3,000 ATMs in Hong Kong for withdrawals (or you can use Apple Pay). Added perks include buy-one-get-one-free coffee in selected merchants, and up to 11% cash back on Deliveroo.
Find out more about ZA.
2. Airstar Bank
HKMA granted a license to Airstar Bank in 2019 and they’ve been providing services like savings accounts, time deposits, and loans ever since. The Xiaomi and AMTD Group joint-venture offers time deposits in HKD, USD, and CNY and the minimum amount for a deposit is 1,000 of the respective currency.
Traditional banks grade clients according to the value of their banked assets but with Airstar, you can enjoy a high interest rate of 3.6% per annum (everyone is treated the same and everyone enjoys the same level of benefits). Another perk of saving on person-labour is there is no handling fee or administration fee for loan applications and at Airstar Bank, you can apply for a loan 12 times that of your monthly income.
Learn more information on Airstar Bank here.
3. Ant Bank
Ant Group (formerly known as Ant Financial) operates the world’s largest mobile and online payment system, Alipay, and is the mother company of Ant Bank. The bank is also an Alibaba affiliate, so there is no questioning its credibility. To make an account, you can either directly download and sign up via the Ant Bank app, or there is a short-cut in the AliPay app (registration is free but a copy of your HKID is required).
Transactions are made super quick with the use of fingerprint technology and even facial recognition system on Apple iPhone X or later models and operates on iOS 11.0 or above.
Read more on Ant Bank.
4. Fusion Bank
Licensed by the HKMA, Fusion Bank is a joint venture owned by Tencent Holdings Limited, ICBC (Asia) Limited, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Hillhouse Capital and renowned Hong Kong entrepreneur Dr. Adrian Cheng Chi-Kong. The minimum time deposit is just $1 (either HKD, USD, or CNY) with an annual interest rate of 0.10% (with a steady growth every three months). Fusion is Hong Kong’s first virtual bank to offer foreign exchange services (no service charge)
Users can enjoy handsome rewards at K11, including 10% discount in K11 Design Store, K11 Beauty Store, and K11 Antonia, and also buy-one-get-one-free selected dessert items at Artisan Lounge. For those pairing their account with WeChat Pay, they can receive an e-cash coupon of $188. Open an account in five minutes with just your HKID card and mobile number. Everything is done before your coffee is ready!
Find more information on Fusion Bank.
5. Livi Bank
Livi Bank has a strong threshold of backers including Bank of China, the Jardine Matheson Group, Jingdon Digits Technology, and Mastercard. Their goal is to build a community for those who want convenient and easy-to-use services (and that’s exactly what they provide). If you’re running low on cash or there’s no ATM in hindsight to withdraw, you can make use of Union Pay’s QR system to scan codes to transfer money.
Livi Bank offers a bountiful of rewards for its customers. You can earn yuu points and monitor them using the Livi app; pay and shake (yes, you literally shake your phone) to earn 1% cash rewards up to three times a day; invite a friend to join Livi Bank and both of you can earn $100 rewards; plus, enjoy 8% cash back for local and global eligible online purchases with livi Debit Mastercard.
Download the Livi Bank app here.
6. Mox Bank
Mox launched in September 2020 in Hong Kong, and is backed by Standard Chartered, in partnership with HKT, PCCW and Trip.com. Mox delivers a suite of retail banking services as well as lifestyle benefits all in one place. Put your money where your mouth is (at Mox) and worry not about security issues with Mox’s strong encryption, biometric login, and e-commerce fraud protection.
And of course, rewards do come into play when deciding on both virtual and physical banks. At Mox, you can earn up to $1000 cash rewards on your first five successful referrals and $100 for subsequent ones. Aside from earning some extra cha-chings, Mox brings the latest Masterclass with dancer and celebrity choreographer, Haruna Kunisawa. Get funky on your dancing feet for just $150 for an hour class.
Learn more about Mox Bank here.
7. Ping An One Connect Bank
Ping An OneConnect Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (PAOB) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. and a member of Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd., and it was granted a virtual banking licence by the HKMA in May 2019. With the PAOB App, customers can carry out cardless transactions using QR codes.
Other than banking services, PAOB also offers financial institutions with FinTech solutions on investment banking, retail banking, and asset management.
Read more on PAOB.
8. WeLab Bank
Founded in 2013, WeLab is a Hong Kong based virtual bank that has expanded to a staggering 45 million plus users and 800 plus employees since (both in and out of Hong Kong). WeLab is backed by CK Hutchison’s TOM Group, International Finance Corporation, and Sequoia Capital.
Upon registration, you can use redemption codes to get cash rewards. To make you look forward to weekends even more, if you use WeLab Debit Card on Fridays to Sundays, you can enjoy a 5% cashback when spending on food and beverages, grocery, and taxi rides booked using apps. There’s 1% cashback on other categories every other day of the week.
Download the WeLab App here.