HK digital bank launch on schedule: official

By Chu Daye Published: 2019/10/21 1:02:34

Photo: VCG

Hong Kong's virtual bank launch date is on schedule for the end of this year, said a senior city official, addressing doubts it would face delays due to the ongoing riots that have decimated the city's industries.

Nicholas W Yang, secretary for Innovation and Technology for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said the city expects the year's end to be the roll-out time for its virtual bank services, Beijing News reported Sunday.

Hong Kong has already granted licenses to eight financial entities as internet giants from the Chinese mainland are among its key stakeholders. 

Yang's comments struck a note of confidence in defiance to the doubts that HK would postpone its virtual bank roll-out, as the riots have delivered a crippling blow to the city's retail and tourism sectors. 

In August, retail sales in HK dropped almost 23 percent year-on-year to HK$19.1 billion ($2.4 billion), according to the city's Census and Statistics Department.

Last month, Reuters reported the launch of online-only banks in Hong Kong would be delayed due to the riots. 

Insiders told the Global Times that Hong Kong's humming finance machine may be the source of confidence for the HK government to maintain its original timetable to roll out services, which is in itself conducive to the city's economic growth. As impacted by the riots, HK risks a technical recession and needs economic boosters.

"The city still has some resilience," said Jeff Zhang, a Hong Kong-based financial industry practitioner.

Yang said the HK government will overcome the difficulties and help the city return to the right track.

Yang also noted the city will introduce digital identification for residents to provide one-stop digital public services next year. Fifth-generation technology will also arrive in 2020 according to the earliest timetable.

On Sunday, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote in an article the city's government is mulling a third round of economic support measures. 

The city announced a HK$19.1 billion ($2.4 billion) economic support package in August. It is also rolling out measures to shore up support for its small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Liang Haiming of the Belt and Road Institute at Hainan University told the Global Times on Sunday the digital bank roll-out will be the future and could become a growth pillar for the global financial hub. 

Massive job opportunities will be offered directly or indirectly through the digital banks, fostering the employment rate, Liang said. 


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