Best Banks In Hong Kong

Fintech Harbor Consulting | Best Banks In Hong Kong
Reviewer: Bohdan Popovchenko
Reviewer: Illia Ivanko
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Earlier in the blog, we talked about why Hong Kong is now one of the most popular jurisdictions for setting up small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups. And there is a reason for this: incorporation in this country has a range of advantages – a convenient tax regime, flexible company management, the possibility of working remotely, and more.
In this regard, financial institutions in Hong Kong are also well-developed. It is advantageous to open accounts for both local and foreign clients. Hong Kong private banks are popular not only in their region but also all over the world. Statistically, the growth of the finance sector in this country is steady and stable. In recent years, this sector has shown a growth of 5 percent or more.
HSBC and Standard Chartered pressed by Hong Kong regulator to take on crypto clients
There is also recent news that the Hong Kong regulator is putting pressure on the big market players, HSBC and Standard Chartered HK. The reason for this is that financial institutions in the country are refusing to serve crypto companies. In turn, this affects the country’s attractiveness as a crypto hub and is in dissonance with the country’s new cryptocurrency regulation. This was revealed by the Financial Times.
To choose the best bank in Hong Kong to open a personal or corporate account in Hong Kong, you need to pay attention to some criteria:
  1. The reputation. Perhaps in the age of digital institutions, this criterion may seem unimportant. But as with other businesses, the more institutions can connect with customers and provide a high level of service, the more credibility they will gain. If you need a proven solution, options like the Bank of China, Hang Seng, and Bank of East Asia are worth a look.
  2. Security. Generally, all Hong Kong banks are subject to state registration and licensing procedures. This ensures a high level of protection of customers’ funds. But if you need additional specific services, you should pay attention to the traditional ones.
  3. The possibility of opening an account remotely. This feature will be very interesting to those who are not ready to travel to another country for a few days in person to open an account. In this case, you can turn to digital institutions and some traditional institutions which open accounts remotely.
  4. Charges and account maintenance prices. This is a huge stumbling block for businesses. The benefit of using a bank is likely to be the most important selection criterion for most prospective customers. Based on competition, Hong Kong offers more and more interesting terms and conditions than its competitors on the market. In terms of transfer fees, a more interesting solution would be traditional institutions with fixed rates of transfer fees.
  5. Ability to work with cryptocurrencies. This is also an important criterion for “new generation” businesses. Some traditional and most digital banks offer cryptocurrency-related transactions (e.g. deposits and withdrawals from cryptocurrency platforms). Pay attention to this criterion at the selection stage, as many institutions are not crypto-friendly.
  6. Minimum requirements. Also, an important criterion, as the provider will require it. The minimum balance starts at 100 USD. Digital ones mostly do not require a minimum balance.
  7. Additional features. You can seek advice if you or your business require additional features such as a credit or debit card, mass payout facility, accounts in specific currencies, etc.
Fintech Harbor Consulting | Best Banks In Hong Kong

Hong Kong Banks. Overview

Banks in Hong Kong have several benefits:
A well-developed money transfer system. For the most part, Hong Kong financial institutions have a well-developed payment transfer system through SWIFT. Since Hong Kong is the big financial center of the Asian region, all business opportunities are gathered here, which operates in Europe as well as in Asia and other regions.
Possibility to open an account remotely. In Hong Kong, it is also possible to remotely open an account for an individual or a legal entity. This is convenient for those who are unable or unwilling to visit the country in person.
Various services. The jurisdiction has many fields of financial services – including individual and corporate account opening, internet banking, credit, wealth management system, etc.
Jurisdictional strength. Although Hong Kong is considered a semi-offshore jurisdiction, its banks are very reputable and provide access to the Asian market. Moreover, many of Hong Kong’s institutions have a long history.
Favorable pricing. Hong Kong financial institutions are also characterized by relatively low costs of maintenance, as well as lower minimum balances.
However, it is worth noting that most financial institutions in Hong Kong require you to be present in person when you open an account. This restriction does not apply to some countries such as the UK. If remote account opening is important to you, digital banks are worth considering.
Thus, for many, Hong Kong can be a good choice for opening personal and corporate accounts.
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Hong Kong Banks. Structure

Banking activities in Hong Kong are licensed, so all institutions that conduct related activities are required to obtain a license from the HK Money Authority (HKMA).
The Hong Kong government has introduced a policy of a 3-tier banking system. It is built on the following criteria:
  • Term and amount of deposit accepted
  • Nature of business
Three types of financial institutions can therefore be defined in the country:

1. Licensed banks

These are the institutions that customers are used to calling the word “bank”. In other words, they are fully licensed providers of such services in the country. They can operate current (checking) and savings accounts, take deposits, and accept paychecks. Examples include HSBC, BoC, BoEA, etc.

2. Restricted license

Financial institutions which have obtained this license can operate as investment banks in capital markets and can take deposits greater than HKD 500,000. This form of license is not popular in Hong Kong, nor is it of much interest to the general consumer. In Hong Kong, the holder of this license is, for example, Goldman Sachs.

3. Deposit-taking companies

These financial institutions are linked to the first type (licensed banks) and provide consumer finance, commercial lending, and securities services. They can take deposits of greater than HKD100,000. A holder of such a license in Hong Kong is, for example, BPI Int. Finance
Fintech Harbor Consulting | Best Banks In Hong Kong

Best Bank in Hong Kong

  1. HSBC
    HSBC is one of the largest banks in the country and was founded more than 150 years ago. It ranks 2nd among the most powerful financial institutions in its region. In addition, according to its latest annual report, it has a capital of more than USD 3 billion. Among the pros of HSBC is that it is present worldwide, not only in its region. It has 220 local representative offices. For example HSBC (UK). It is also developing in the field of ‘new’ services, i.e. anything that has to do with simplification. At the same time, it is considered one of the most reputable and secure.

  2. Bank of China
    It is a traditional financial institution that is considered the strongest in the Asian region. BoC has total assets of about USD 3 billion. It provides a full list of financial services under license and contact between Hong Kong and Mainland China. This can be important for some types of businesses or private clients. Among the advantages is the banking infrastructure, which is a base for the whole region.

  3. Hang Seng Bank
    It is one of the largest banks in Hong Kong. According to statistics, HSB serves more than half of Hong Kong’s population. Therefore, it may be of particular interest to residents of the country. This bank is very popular with residents of the country, both individuals and companies. It has a very good reputation among its clients. At the same time, HSB does not have as strong a global presence as the previous options. Therefore, it is worth considering if you are interested in a local one.

  4. Citibank Hong Kong
    It is one of the world’s best-known institutions and has a large network of offices around the world. It was established in Hong Kong in 1902, which makes it a reputable bank in the region. It has a well-developed correspondent system and provides a standard range of services for individuals and businesses. It is also very popular in terms of credit. At the same time, internet services are not so well developed. Moreover, Citibank does not offer as favorable terms of use as its competitors.

  5. Standard Chartered HK
    SC HK is one of the largest banks in Hong Kong. This traditional bank, unlike the others, was founded much later, in 2004. Nevertheless, it is present in 60 countries around the world. It provides a standard range of services. On the other hand, it has not developed online banking and has higher fees.

  6. Bank of East Asia
    BoEA, together with HSBC, is one of the major banks in Hong Kong. Among the distinctive features is the wide range of currencies in which customers can hold an account. It is very well known in its region, same time is not globally present.

  7. Public Bank Hong Kong
    It is also one of the local institutions. It was established in the 1930s, but at the moment it is not very popular compared to its competitors. Public Bank Hong Kong was Originally named Asia Commercial Bank.
There are also alternative institutions for those interested in a Hong Kong account. We are talking about digital banks. Among their advantages are: completely remote opening, affordable account opening as well as maintenance, and not being linked to the country directly.
Such options in Hong Kong include:
  1. Airwallex
    Is one of the most well-known digital institutions in the region. Notably, it has Australian roots. The institution also has a presence in Europe, making the Asia-Europe connection stronger for customers and easier to use. The service allows for multi-currency accounts, fund transfers, and other financial services. But, at the same time, it does not provide the lending services that traditional banks do. The service is popular with small businesses, freelancers, and start-ups, as it does not cost much. At the same time, it gives the right financial instruments to the client.

  2. Startrys
    It is also one of the representatives of digital institutions in the country. Startrys mainly serves fintech companies, but may also be of interest to other companies.
    The service also provides financial services for multi-currency accounts as well as bank transfers.
    It is important to note that digital options can also significantly reduce account opening time through faster compliance.

Comparison of the best banks in Hong Kong

Name Remote account opening Good Online banking Globality Min. requirements Additional Features
HSBC Yes (for some jurisdictions) Yes Yes 0 to 5,000 USD Branches, Bank cards, Deposits
Bank of East Asia No No No 200 USD Usual
Bank of China Only for HK Yes Yes From 500 USD Branches, Bank cards, Deposits
Hang Seng Bank Only for HK Yes No 0 to 3000 USD Branches, Bank cards, Deposits
Standard Chartered HK Only for HK No Yes 200 USD Usual
Citibank Hong Kong Only for HK No Yes No Usual
Airwallex Yes Yes Yes No Bank card, connectivity to the marketplaces, local and global accounts, Fast opening
Startrys Yes Yes Yes No Fintech business, Fast opening, Bank cards
Fintech Harbor Consulting | Best Banks In Hong Kong

Tips for choosing the best bank in Hong Kong

To choose the best bank in Hong Kong, there are several important principles to follow. This will help you choose the institution for the best price that will protect your funds.
Among these are:
  1. Ask a lawyer for more information about choosing a bank. This will reduce your costs and save you time. Choosing and opening an account with a financial institution may not be the easiest procedure. This is because it requires considerable preparation of documentation as well as comparing offers to open an account.
  2. Pay attention to news and ratings. This advice is directly related to the credibility of the bank. If it is visible, popular, and trustworthy it is a good sign. Of course, it does not guarantee that your requirements will be met, but it is still worth paying attention to.
  3. Compare offers. As the marketplace is a competitive one, many banks in Hong Kong encourage potential customers with different opportunities and discounts.
  4. Pay attention to your needs. Some institutions may not offer certain opportunities for you or your business. For example, cryptocurrency capabilities, or issuing credit cards (for a customer’s specific location of residence).
  5. Check the capabilities. If specific features are important to you (e.g. an account in an unpopular currency or the ability to send to countries with poor banking infrastructure), it is important to check the financial institution’s ability to send these payments. This is related to the presence or absence of open correspondent accounts.

FAQ

Hong Kong private banks are very popular in the country, both among individuals and businesses. For example

  1. HSBC
  2. Bank of East Asia
  3. Hang Seng Bank
  4. Standard Chartered HK
  5. Citibank Hong Kong
  1. HSBC
  2. Goldman Sachs (Asia Bank)
  3. Bank of East Asia
  4. DBS
  5. Citibank Hong Kong
  1. HSBC
  2. Bank of East Asia
  3. Hang Seng Bank
  4. Standard Chartered HK
  5. Citibank Hong Kong
For non-residents, the procedure for opening an account does not differ much from the usual one. The difference is that residents can open an account with some institutions remotely. In addition, non-residents need to provide additional documentation about the origin of the funds.
The bank now has other payment details – SWIFT Address/Code: DBSSSGSG. In addition, this bank is now within the structure of another bank, DBS. It is worth paying attention to this when making transfers.
Opening an account in Hong Kong is different from the type of account opening. The first type is personal account opening. The customer has to come to one of the branches in person and open an account with a bank manager. The other type is remote account opening. In the remote opening, the client has to go through online verification either with the staff of the bank or through an automated system. This can speed up and simplify the process (if the client is not a Hong Kong resident)
There are quite a few options for UK residents to open a bank account in Hong Kong. Firstly, it is of course possible to travel to Hong Kong in person and open an account for yourself or a company. But this is often costly in terms of both resources and time. That is why residents of the UK and some other countries can open accounts in Hong Kong remotely from digital banks as well as from traditional ones. HSBC, for example, offers such an option.
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