Mar 25, 2020 04:00 AM

Hong Kong Plugs in First Online-Only Bank

What’s New: Hong Kong’s first internet-only bank started serving public clients Tuesday, offering services including remote account opening, online money transfers, multi-currency savings, time deposits, local money transfers and loans.

The opening is timely amid the Covid-19 pandemic as major conventional banks including Standard Chartered, Bank of China and HSBC are closing outlets in the city to reduce the spread of infection.

ZA Bank Ltd., a unit of Chinese online insurer ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Ltd., conducted more than three months of test runs. To attract clients, the bank will offer 1% annual interest on certain deposits, higher than other commercial banks in the city

Background: ZA Bank, established in August 2018, was one of eight companies granted virtual bank licenses by Hong Kong’s monetary authority last year, a move seen as a key step for the city to enhance its position as an international financial hub.

ZA Bank’s shareholders include affiliates of internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Among other licensed virtual banks are one backed by e-commerce company Inc., a unit of Alibaba’s fintech affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, a Tencent joint venture, and a company backed by smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the full announcement in Chinese, click here.

Related: Tech-Giant Backed Virtual Bank First to Trial Services in Hong Kong

Contact reporter Han Wei (

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