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By Wei Yiyang and Han Wei / Jan 18, 2020 07:18 AM / Business & Tech



Hong Kong’s monetary authority expects three or four internet-only banks to kick off trial runs during the first quarter this year following the launch last month of the first such bank, ZA Bank Ltd., the authority said Friday.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) last year issued virtual bank licenses to eight companies to test the new services. The companies are scheduled to start pilot services within nine months after they received the licenses, according to the HKMA.

Only ZA Bank has started its trial run so far. The bank, controlled by Chinese online insurer ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Ltd., began offering virtual bank services Dec. 18 to 2,000 select retail users in advance of a full rollout.

Licensed companies will miss the schedule if they can’t start trials by the end of March. The HKMA didn’t elaborate what could hinder the steps of the banks.

WeLab Bank and Standard Chartered's SC Digital Solutions have said they plan to start services early this year.

Other license winners include Livi VB, Ant SME Services (Hong Kong) Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Infinium Ltd., Xiaomi Corp.-controlled Insight Fintech HK Ltd., and Ping An OneConnect Co. Ltd., a unit of Chinese insurance giant Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd.

Related: In Depth: With Eye on Fintech, Hong Kong Grants More Virtual Bank Licenses

Contact reporter Han Wei (

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