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Banking in Hong Kong

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If you have chosen to move to Hong Kong, you will probably be working there. And if you are, you will have to open a local bank account at some point of time. With the city being one of the world’s top financial centres, you will have no shortage of choice when it comes to banking.

Some of the biggest banks in Hong Kong are HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia (BEA), Standard Chartered Hong Kong Citibank, the State Bank of IndiaBNP Paribas and many others. Most of these banks are registered with the Hong Kong Association of Banks. Hence, you can find their contact numbers on this association's website and in the useful links mentioned at the end of this article.

Personal account

You don't have to be a Hong Kong resident to be allowed to open a bank account in Hong Kong. However, you will need two compulsory documents: a valid identity document (passport or identity card) and proof of address (whether in Hong Kong or elsewhere). You just have to fill in related documents on the spot, with the help of the bank personnel on site. Note that you will have to make a minimum deposit on opening the bank account. The amount generally varies according to the bank and the type of account you have chosen. You cannot open a Hong Kong account online if this is your first account — however, after your Internet baking is all set up, you will be able to open more accounts remotely.

You can choose between opening a chequeing account, a savings account, an integrated account (savings cheques) an investment account (if you plan to purchase dividends or bonds) or a timed deposits account (an interest bearing account). Your ATM card should be ready within 3-7 working days and you can pick it up from the bank in person or have it mailed to your current address.

 Good to know:

If your bank has a branch in Hong Kong, you can also apply for an account online (even prior to your arrival in Hong Kong), which will save you a lot of time.

Business account

In addition to a personal account, you can also open a business account in Hong Kong — however, the procedure is a bit more complicated.

In order to prevent money laundering and ensure the legality of all transactions, banks in Hong Kong now comply with the KYC rules — Know Your Customer.

For you, this means that you will need to present more documentation to set up a business account. This includes providing detailed information about your business, its employees and partners as well as attending a formal interview at the bank. Here are the documents you will need to prepare for the interview:

  • Passport/HK ID card
  • Proof of existing business (if your company has already started operations)
  • A detailed business plan
  • Business registration certificate
  • Proof of address
  • Copy of your Hong Kong visa

Note that all the documents need to be translated into English.

Fees

The fees associated with having a Hong Kong account vary from bank to bank, and you should carefully go through the terms and conditions in your contract to be aware of all the payments. Most banks will charge you a monthly account maintenance fee and some require a minimum balance to be always present in your account (usually the same amount as the deposit you are required to place when opening an account). Note that additional fees apply to several transactions such as payment via a credit card or transfers in foreign currency, etc. In general, these fees amount to more than HKD$20. International transfers typically come with the average fee of HKD$120.

Choosing a bank

There are over 250 licensed banks in Hong Kong, so you will have plenty of options when making your selection.

You can choose to open an account in an international bank, like HSBC or Citibank — this option is especially convenient if these banks also have branches in your home country. Alternatively, you can consider a local bank like Standard Chartered or Hang Seng, which also offer quality service but do not have branches outside Asia.

Hong Kong also has several Chinese banks — a suitable option if you will be dealing with the Chinese yuan or making frequent transactions with Mainland banks. Bank of China is the biggest Chinese bank in Hong Kong.

Facilities

Hong Kong is a highly developed region and deemed to be a financial hub for Asia. Hence, you are likely to find ATMs almost everywhere around the region in case of need. Cheques are also accepted by some retailers, but you have to produce your identity card at each payment for security reasons. Debit cards are also widely used.

Mobile payments are on the rise — but are still not as widespread as in mainland China and neighbouring Singapore. WeChat Pay, which is extremely popular in the Mainland, was only granted a payment license in Hong Kong in September 2016 and some features are still under development. With that said, the city has its own electronic payment systems with Octopus Card being the most widespread. Having started out as a contactless smart card for the MTR system, Octopus has since evolved into a comprehensive electronic payment system accepted on all public transportation, in convenience stores, supermarkets, etc.

 Important:

Note the scope of services you will have access to via ATM card differs from bank to bank.

 Good to know:

Iit is recommended to purchase an Octopus Card upon arrival in Hong Kong. You can find them in any convenience store across the city and the cards are easily refillable.

 Useful links:

The Hong Kong Association of Banks
The Hong Kong Association of Banks – Directory of banks
Hong Kong Octopus

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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