Livi Bank Joins Race for Virtual Bank Customers in Hong Kong
What’s new: Livi Bank, backed by Bank of China Hong Kong and e-commerce giant JD.com, will launch services in Hong Kong Wednesday, becoming the fourth virtual bank to open for business in the Asian financial hub.
Differentiating itself from the three other early entrants, Livi is mainly promoting its electronic payment feature. The others are trying to lure customers with high deposit interest rates. Livi has partnered with card payment organization UnionPay International to enable users to shop at merchants by simply scanning the UnionPay QR code on their cellphones.
The bank is offering “shake shake” rewards, through which customers can shake their cellphones after payments with the UnionPay QR code and receive cash rewards. Each client can use the function three times a day, according to the bank.
New users can get a HK$100 ($12.90) cash reward upon opening an account and another HK$100 cash reward for each of the first 10 new customers they invite to open accounts with Livi Bank.
The background: More than a year after Hong Kong’s banking regulator issued licenses to eight virtual banks, four of them are still in preparation or internal testing. ZA Bank, a subsidiary of Chinese online insurer ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. and one of the first batch of licensees; Airstar Bank Ltd., a joint venture backed by smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.; and WeLab Bank, the only stand-alone homegrown virtual bank, are the three others already in business.
The rollout of virtual banking in Hong Kong has lagged behind the official plan because of an extended assessment period and disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in 2019 that it expected all the licensed banks to start operation by the first half of 2020.
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