RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong grants four more virtual banking licenses with Ant Financial and Tencent entering fray

A unit backed by Chinese insurer Ping An also scored a license.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has granted four more virtual banking licenses to banking units backed by big-time tech titans. 

Also readHong Kong shapes up in heating virtual banking race

The newly licensed entities include Ant SME Services (Hong Kong) Limited, Infinium Limited, Insight Fintech HK Limited and Ping An OneConnect Company Limited who intend to launch their services in around 6 to 9 months.

Ant SME is a unit of Ant Financial Services and Ping An One Connect is backed by Chinese insurer Ping An. Insight Fintech is a joint venture between smartphone maker Xiaomi and investment bank AMTD and Infinium is a joint venture between Tencent, ICBC Asia, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing and Hillhouse Capital. 

"The HKMA is now working closely with the 8 virtual bank licensees to prepare for the launch of their business operations in accordance with their plans," HKMA chief executive Norman Chan said in a statement. “The launch of virtual banks in Hong Kong, which is a key component of the Smart Banking Initiatives, will certainly facilitate financial innovation, enhanced customer experience and financial inclusion."

The other four virtual bank licensees include Livi VB, an entity co-owned by Bank of China (Hong Kong); SC Digital Solutions, a joint venture between Standard Chartered, HKT, PCCW and Ctriop; ZhongAn Virtual Finance which is backed by online P&C insurer ZhongAn and fintech unicorn WeLab.

After the granting of the above banking licences, the number of licensed banks in Hong Kong increases to 160.

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