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HKMA to "virtual banking" applicants - "you can't even fill your forms in properly"

Editorial Staff

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, in its daily announcement timed for after everyone except Compliance has set off for Lan Kwai Fong (17:39, this one arrived), has some startling news for all those who are wetting themselves over the future of FinTech. A third of applicants for licences made such a mess of the process that the HKMA has thrown them out.

It's hard to tell, off the page, whether the HKMA is expressing hope, anger or sarcasm when it says "

As for the remaining applications, the HKMA will shortlist about one-third of them for the next stage of assessment. This batch of applicants should be more promising or better-equipped than others in terms of their business models, technology platforms and financial capability, etc., rendering them better positioned to meet the policy objectives of the HKMA in introducing virtual banking."

This is the brutal position of the regulator: "The HKMA announced earlier that around 30 applications had been received as at the end of August 2018. About one-third of these applicants did not submit sufficient information on certain critical aspects of authorisation criteria. Subsequently, the HKMA has informed these applicants that their applications will not be further processed."

The HKMA will endeavour to start granting virtual banking licence(s) in the first quarter of 2019. The HKMA does not set any specific number for virtual banking licences, and the actual number of licences to be granted ultimately will be subject to the HKMA's further assessment and due diligence process, it says, while also reminding applicants that there are a number of pre-conditions to a successful application including "promoting fintech development, providing new customer experience and promoting financial inclusion."