Airwallex Plans To Spend RMB 1 Billion To Apply For Hong Virtual Banking License

1 November, 2018

Recently, cross-border payment company Airwallex submitted an application to obtain a virtual banking license from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), making them one of the first financial institutions to do so. Co-founder and CEO of Airwallex, Jack Zhang, expressed his hope that the license will help his company to increase the scale of construction for APIs and to develop solutions for SMEs; the platform’s initial investment towards obtaining the license is estimated to be about RMB1 billion.  

Jack also pointed out that the relationship between financial institutions shouldn’t be competitive. Instead, they should be working together to improve and perfect the current finance infrastructure. He gave an example: a person may have several different bank accounts, and they will correspondingly have to download several different banking apps; if an app is developed that can be used by the customer to check all of their accounts, that app is then much more convenient for people. As such, Jack believes that the way forward for the industry is for all its players to cooperate and work together to achieve a finance infrastructure that is highly transparent and universal.  

In other news, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) established a physical enterprise in August last year in order to prepare for the launch of its virtual bank. The bank submitted an application to obtain a virtual banking license from HKMA during the period. Standard Chartered Bank Group’s CIO Mr. Michael Gorriz stated yesterday that HKMA is looking to issue the first batch of licenses by the end of the year. If the company’s application is approved, their virtual bank would be ready for its official launch in 2019.  

In terms of the bank’s aims for this new initiative, Gorriz outlined three principles the team is adhering to: the recruitment of experienced bankers, which will give full autonomy to the virtual banking team; increasing the speed of the process for launching new designs for projects; and establishing a new virtual banking environment from scratch. He believes that these three key elements will ensure that the bank will be able to launch their e-wallet smoothly.  

Standard Chartered Virtual bank’s CEO, Deniz Güven added that the Virtual Bank has abandoned the old banking system; instead they will use technology and new risk control systems. They will also be utilizing team building for their operating system in the future, in order to support the bank, meaning it will not merely rely on virtual banking services.