How to Open a BOC Greater Bay Area Bank Account That Links with AliPay and WeChat Pay in Hong Kong

How to Open a BOC Greater Bay Area Bank Account That Links with AliPay and WeChat Pay in Hong Kong

Electronic payment services such as AliPay or WeChat Pay are commonly used in China to pay for everything from snacks to taxi fares via mobile apps. When traveling in China, it is highly recommended to download at least one of these mobile payment apps.

However, most of us may encounter a problem—to use such electronic payment services, we first need to have a mainland bank account. Fortunately, the Bank of China (Hong Kong) is now offering the “Greater Bay Area Account Opening Service”, which allows us to open a mainland bank account at Hong Kong branches without going back to China in person. 

If you are interested, keep on reading to learn more about account opening requirements, minimum deposit, and remittance procedures!

Requirement of Greater Bay Area Account Opening Service

To use Bank of China’s “Greater Bay Area Account Opening Service,” you’ll need to meet the following conditions:

  • an account in Hong Kong dollars with Bank of China (Hong Kong) and 
  • your ID card, 
  • home Return Permit, and 
  • a Mainland China phone number authenticated with real-name registration.

Mainland China Phone Number with Authenticated Real-name Registration

Your Mainland China phone number will be used to receive notifications from Mainland Chinese banks, as well as to link electronic payment apps like Alipay and WeChat Pay.

After your application is processed, simply wait for the bank’s successful account opening notification. Then, visit the designated branch to collect your account information and set your password.

Greater Bay Area Account: Restrictions on Deposits and Withdrawals Amount

Bank of China’s accounts in Mainland China are currently divided into three categories: Type I, Type II, and Type III. 

In Hong Kong, customers can apply for Type II and Type III accounts only.

Type I

Type I accounts are similar to the bank accounts commonly used by people in Hong Kong, with no restrictions on the amount of deposits and withdrawals, and a withdrawal card.

Type II & Type III

Type II accounts come with a withdrawal card, while Type III does not. The key point is that both have restrictions on the amount of deposits and withdrawals. Once the limit is exceeded, you cannot deposit or withdraw any more. (Please refer to Table 1 for details.)

Table 1: Bank of China Mainland Account Amount Limits (in RMB)
Account Categories Type II Account Type III Account(No withdrawal Card)
Balance Limit N/A RMB2,000
Daily Transfer and Deposit Fund Accumulative Limit RMB10,000 N/A (Depends on account balance and daily transferral amount)
Daily Consumption, Payment, Transfer, and Withdrawal Accumulative Limit RMB10,000

(ATM Daily Withdrawal Limit: RMB1,000)

Annual Cumulative Limit Transfer in/transfer out is RMB200,000 each. Transfer out is RMB50,000
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Handling Fee for Direct Remittance to Mainland Account May Apply

Once you have an understanding of the type of account and its limitations, it’s important to also take note of the associated expenses. As of now, both Type II and III accounts require a minimum balance of at least 300 RMB (refer to Table 2 for more information) and a remittance fee may be incurred.

Table 2: Bank of China Mainland Account Fees (in RMB)
Account Type Type II Account Type III Account (without withdrawal card)
Daily Balance No less than RMB300. If the balance is less than the required amount, a fee of RMB3 will be charged every quarter
Withdrawal Card Annual Fee First year exempted, RMB10 per year thereafter Not applicable
Credit Card Cost Fee First time exemption, RMB5  per card thereafter Not applicable

You won’t have to pay a handling fee for your first remittance. But if you remit through the bank branch next time, you’ll be charged HK$200 each time. However, if you use online banking “Bank of China Remittance”, the handling fee is only HK$65.

To avoid paying handling fees, it’s better to go to a foreign exchange shop to exchange RMB by yourself (because banks generally have poor exchange rates.) The general handling fee of the foreign exchange shops is usually less than HK$100, then you can deposit RMB directly into Bank of China’s Mainland account at the Bank of China branch in Hong Kong without paying any handling fee.

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HSBC Allows Opening a Mainland China Bank Account, But with Higher Fees

The BOC cross-border account opening service launched is not something new, as many banks have been providing witness account opening services. 

HSBC cross-border account

For example, at HSBC, all you need to do is go to the headquarters, present your ID card, return home permit and proof of address, and you can open accounts in different regions and countries.

The Chinese bank account opened at HSBC could be a Type I account, which offers the most comprehensive set of services. However, when opening a mainland account at HSBC, if you are not an HSBC Premier client, you may be charged HK$1,600 and HK$800 respectively.

Opening cross-border account with other banks

In addition to foreign banks such as HSBC, mainland Chinese banks such as China Construction Bank (Asia) and ICBC (Asia) also provide Hong Kong witness account opening services, but applicants may be required to provide proof of mainland address. 

If it’s okay with you, you can also get a mainland account at ICBC Futian Port Branch without proof of mainland address. The application process is easy and takes about half an hour during non-peak hours.

Alipay and WeChat Pay HK Make Cross-border Payments More Convenient

For users who frequently have business in mainland China or make large purchases between the two regions, it is more convenient to open a mainland bank account. 

However, for users who frequently travel to China, using Alipay HK, WeChat Pay HK, or even simpler payment methods is a better option. 

Both Alipay HK and WeChat Pay HK now offer cross-border payments, although they currently only support designated popular merchants such as Heytea, Naixue Tea, Tan Yu, and Haidilao Hot Pot. These payment methods are convenient and offer an attractive exchange rate. 

A Final Tip is: don’t forget to link a credit card to the app payment, so you can earn points and cash back while shopping.

Related Articles

WeChat Pay vs. Alipay: Which app do you need? Check out the blog post to find out!

Having problems when opening an WeChat Pay account? Here’s the all-in-one guide for everything you need to know about WeChat Pay Account Opening.

How to get a bank account that links with Alipay and WeChat Pay? Check out How to Open a BOC Greater Bay Area Bank Account That Links with AliPay and WeChat Pay in Hong Kong

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