Virtual Banks in Hong Kong Overview: Features, Welcome Offers Comparison

Virtual Banks in Hong Kong Overview: Features, Welcome Offers Comparison

Hong Kong’s FinTech industry is continuously evolving, and virtual banks are at the forefront of this innovation. With the granting of 8 virtual bank licenses in 2019, the competition in Hong Kong’s finance sector has intensified.

At MoneySmart, we are committed to helping you make the most of your finances, which is why we have compiled a comprehensive guide to virtual banks in Hong Kong. Whether you’re looking for the best welcome offers, the most attractive interest rates, or simply want to understand the differences between traditional and virtual banks, our guide has got you covered. So, read on and discover the world of virtual banking in Hong Kong!


Table of contents: Virtual banks in Hong Kong


Virtual Bank account opening rewards

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Mox logo
Bank Promo
Min. Rate
1.5%
Saving Rate
5.5%
Minimum Initial Deposit
HK$0

For product details and promotional offers, please refer to the latest announcements from each bank.


What are virtual banks?

Virtual banks, also known as neobanks, online banks, or branchless banks, are transforming the banking industry in Hong Kong. By providing retail banking services exclusively through digital platforms, these banks enable customers to easily access services such as deposits, loans, credit cards, and direct debit cards without in-person interactions.

A recent study by Visa in October 2021 revealed that nearly 50% of Hong Kong residents have opened virtual bank accounts, indicating a growing trend in the popularity of these banks.


Which are the virtual banks in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) granted 8 virtual bank licences in 2019, and all of these banks are now fully operational, marking the start of the “neo-bank” era in Hong Kong, namely livi bank, ZA Bank, Airstar Bank, Welab Bank, Fusion Bank, MOX Bank, Ant Bank, and PAO Bank.

Despite the high level of competition, these virtual banks consistently offer enticing services to their customers, including generous welcome rewards for new account openings, attractive interest rates for fixed and current deposits, cashback incentives for spending, and low-interest loans.


Features of Hong Kong’s virtual banks

MoneySmart is here to explain the differences between virtual banks and traditional banks, as well as what you should be aware of when using virtual bank services.

The 8 licenced virtual banks background

Here are the 8 virtual banks that have been granted licenses:

Virtual Banks Company Investors
livi Bank livi VB Limited Bank of China (Hong Kong), JingDong Digits Technology, Jardine Matheson Group
Mox SC Digital Solutions Limited Standard Chartered, PCCW, HKT, Ctrip Finance
ZA Bank ZA Group ZhongAn Insurance, Sinolink WorldWide Holdings
WeLab Bank Welab Digital Limited Welab, Welend
Ant Bank Ant Financial (Hong Kong) Ant Financial Group, Alibaba
Airstar Bank Insight Fintech HK Limited XiaoMi, AMTD Group
Fusion Bank Infinium Limited Tencent, ICBC (Asia), HKEX, Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, Hillhouse Group
PingAn OneConnect bank Ping An’s One Connect Ping An Insurance

Virtual banks have key features that are different from traditional banks

The following summarizes what makes virtual banks different from traditional banks:

  • Virtual banks operate fully online, with no physical branches. That saves you time from getting to the physical bank and waiting in line.
  • Virtual banks operate without physical branches, which gives them lower operating costs compared to traditional banks. This is because they do not have to pay for expensive rents and can focus their human resources on handling financial affairs. This results in operational costs that are lower than those of traditional banks with physical branches, which may allow virtual banks to offer higher interest rates and loan promotions.
  • Virtual banks are tailored for individuals or small businesses.

Virtual banks are protected by the HK$500,000 deposit insurance scheme

According to current regulations, virtual banks in Hong Kong are still protected by the Hong Kong Deposit Protection Board. Each virtual bank user is eligible for up to HKD 500,000 in bank deposit insurance. That means if any of the aforementioned 8 virtual banks were to collapse, each depositor would be eligible for up to HKD 500,000 in compensation.


Comparison of 8 virtual banks

Virtual Bank Types of Accounts Cards/Services Channels of Contact
Mox Bank Personal Accounts Debit and Credit Mastercard, Loan Services, Foreign Exchange Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email
ZA Bank Personal Accounts, Business Accounts Physical and Virtual Visa Debit cards, Insurance, and Loan Services Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email, Website Live Chat
Airstar Bank Personal Accounts Loan Services and Foreign Exchange 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email
WeLab Bank Personal Accounts Physical and Virtual Debit Mastercard, Loan Services, Foreign Exchange, and Insurance Services Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email
Livi Bank Personal Accounts, Business Accounts Virtual Debit Mastercard, Loan Services, and Travel Insurance Services Customer Hotline, Email, WeChat, Live Chat (registered customers only)
Ant Bank Personal Accounts Loan Services 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email
Ping An OneConnect Bank (PAOB) Personal Accounts, Business Accounts Loan Services, Foreign Exchange Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email
Fusion Bank Limited Personal Accounts Loan Services, Foreign Exchange 24hr Customer Enquiry Hotline, Email, Live Chat(registered customers only)

Mox Bank

Mox Bank, which opened to the public in 2020, is owned by the well-known financial company Standard Chartered. This virtual bank is popular for offering generous incentives to its clients, such as discounts and low interest rates, making it a great option for those who want to get the most value out of their banking.

Features:

  • 24/7 deposit interest is available at rates as high as 6.2% APR
  • 1% cashback on any amount of spending (up to 5% cashback with a split purchase of HK$5,000)
  • Mox credit is available with the same card
  • easy to split purchase/split statements up to 60 months
  • instant loan available
Mox logo
Bank Promo
Min. Rate
1.5%
Saving Rate
5.5%
Minimum Initial Deposit
HK$0

ZA Bank

ZA Bank positions itself as a virtual bank that prioritizes the needs of the community. Their inclusive sign-up policy ensures that anyone can open an account with them, making banking accessible to all.

ZA Bank also provides a wide range of services, including high-interest deposits, debit cards, personal loans, investment services, credit card repayment, and virtual insurance products under the ZA Insure brand. One of the featured products is ZA Remit, which enables overseas remittance at a low rate in a timely manner.

Compared to other virtual banks, ZA Bank offers the most comprehensive and user-friendly range of products, making it a great choice for those seeking an all-rounded banking experience in Hong Kong.

Features:

  • ZA Remit allows overseas remittances at a low rate in a timely manner
  • ZA Debit Card with shopping offers up to a whopping 11% rebate
  • Investment fund subscriptions such as those from Allianz, Fidelity, UBS are available

Airstar Bank

Airstar Bank, which began operations in June 2020, is the second virtual bank in Hong Kong and is jointly owned by AMTD Group and Xiaomi Corporation. AMTD is a well-known financial services provider in Asia, while Xiaomi Corporation is a globally recognised brand for its mobile phones.

Features:

  • HKD/USD/CNY accounts are available
  • personal loan apr as low as 1.58%

WeLab Bank

WeLab Bank is a Hong Kong-based virtual bank that was granted a licence in 2019. Owned by WeLab Limited, a fintech company providing financial services in China and Indonesia since 2013, WeLab Bank offers impressive virtual banking services to customers in Hong Kong.

Features:

  • invest in featured funds with no fees.
  • debt consolidation loan available
  • apple products subscription

livi Bank

Livi Bank, established in 2020, is jointly owned by Jingdon Digits Technology, Bank of China (BOC) Hong Kong, and Jardine Matheson Group. With a goal similar to other virtual banks in Hong Kong, Livi Bank aims to transform the banking experience through its digital platform.

Features:

  • livi Flexi Loan “Personal Loan” offers interest rates as low as 1.78% APR
  • livi Debit Mastercard provides up to 8% cashback at designated merchants
  • livi PayLater offers flexible installments

Ant Bank

Ant Bank, a virtual bank that launched in 2019, is owned by Ant Financial Group, a well-known fintech company founded by Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma. With a global presence, Ant Group offers financial solutions in multiple countries and continues to expand its reach.

Features:

  • AliPayHK connection is available
  • AliPayHK PayLater offers payment installments

Fusion Bank

Fusion Bank Limited is a new virtual bank established in 2020 with a joint venture led by Adrian Cheng, the owner of Perfect Ridge Limited, in collaboration with partner companies including Tencent Holdings, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, and Hillhouse Capital.

Features:

  • Business banking is available
  • Low threshold of investment of HK$10/US$1
  • Global remittance service is available

Ping An OneConnect Bank (PAO Bank)

In 2019, Ping An OneConnect Bank (PAOB) introduced virtual banking services in Hong Kong. As a subsidiary of Ping An Insurance Company, a respected fintech business, PAOB boasts a strong capital base and extensive experience in the financial industry, which have helped it quickly establish itself as a leading virtual bank in Hong Kong. PAOB’s selling point is its substantial capital base, which it leverages to provide customers with innovative and high-quality financial services.

Features:

  • No minimum balance requirement
  • SME banking services are available
Virtual bank Deposit Debit card Personal loan Investment Insurance SME services
Mox Bank V V V X X X
ZA Bank V V V V V V
Airstar Bank V X V X X X
WeLab Bank V V V V V X
livi Bank V V V V V V
Ant Bank V X V X X X
Fusion Bank V X V V X V
PAO Bank V X X V V V

Frequently asked questions: Virtual Banks in Hong Kong

What is a virtual bank?

Virtual banks, also known as neobanks, are revolutionising banking in Hong Kong by providing retail banking services online, including deposits, loans, credit cards, and direct debit cards, without needing in-person interactions.

What are the eligibility criteria for opening a virtual bank account?

To open a virtual bank account, you usually need to meet the following requirements:

  • Be 18 years old or older
  • Have a valid Hong Kong ID card
  • Have a Hong Kong mobile number for receiving text messages
  • Have a valid Hong Kong residential address

What virtual banks are available in Hong Kong?

Licenced virtual banks in Hong Kong are ZA Bank, Airstar Bank, MOX Bank, livi bank, WeLab Bank, Ant Bank, PAO Bank, and Fusion Bank.

How can money be deposited into a virtual bank account?

Virtual bank account deposits can be made via Faster Payment System (FPS), electronic Direct Debit Authorization (eDDA), and account number transfer.

How can virtual bank customers withdraw their money?

Some virtual banks allow cash withdrawals through ATMs; otherwise, customers must transfer money to an external bank account to withdraw cash.

Do virtual banks participate in the Deposit Protection Scheme?

Virtual banks, like traditional banks, offer deposit protection up to HK$500,000.

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