Hong Kong’s first online-only lender ZA Bank starts operations

ZA bank, a unit of China’s ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. began operating on Tuesday, it said in a statement, the first of Hong Kong‘s new online-only banks to do so.

Hong Kong last year issued eight so-called virtual banking licences to companies including Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, and consortia involving Standard Chartered and Tencent.

The new banks could be the biggest shake-up in years to Hong Kong‘s profitable retail banking sector, dominated by old-guard lenders such as HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and Standard Chartered.

When the new licences were issued in March and April last year, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it expected the banks to begin operating in six to nine months.

Launches were delayed by anti-government protests and operational difficulties, Reuters reported last year.

ZA bank’s services, the statement said, include lending and a deposit account with an annual interest rate of 1% – traditional players in Hong Kong, such as HSBC offer 0.001% on Hong Kong dollar savings deposits.

The launch comes as Hong Kong authorities and businesses grapple with the effect of the new coronavirus. On Monday, Hong Kong stopped all tourist arrivals and transit passengers at its airport in a bid to halt the virus’ spread.

Other Asian markets including Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan have issued, or plan to issue new online banking licences.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.