In global terms, the world has experienced a skyrocketed demand in digital payment and banking service after two years of struggle with the pandemics. With an over 50% increase in mobile app usage in Hong Kong and Singapore, this unprecedented growth drives a massive opportunity in digital banking across Asia. It changes the landscape of traditional banking and creates a new battlefield in mobile banking and virtual banking.
Hong Kong Virtual Banking
As the international financial hub, Hong Kong has positioned itself for a financial services revolution by issuing virtual banking licences.  In this new fintech era, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) plays a paramount role to create an environment and initiatives for the interest sectors and ensure Hong Kong will be the leader of smart banking.
With the absence of physical branches, Virtual bank (VB) has a unique flexibility in innovation and minimal corporation cost compared to traditional banks. They must only offer their services through phones or the internet. While the digital banking platforms feel comfortable with the shifting market trends, the giant banking corporations are definitely playing catch up.
2021 Global Mobile Banking Benchmark
In November this year, Sia Partners, a business consulting firm, announced its fourth annual global mobile banking benchmark to provide insights on the digitalization of banking services. The report analyzes the performance of 135 banks in 17 different countries around the globe based on more than 85 criteria, ranging from functionalities, user experience (UX), and customer app store ratings.
In the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region, seven Hong Kong banks and three Singapore banks take place in the top 10 spots. Mox Bank, a virtual lender supported by Standard Chartered, takes the crown as the best mobile banking app. The survey indicated that Mox Bank, DBS SGP and Livi Bank (o-owned by Bank of China (Hong Kong)) are the top 3 frontiers in Asia. In Hong Kong, two virtual banks (Mox Bank and Livi Bank) and one traditional bank (Hang Seng Bank) are the top 3 leading players. Hong Kong has a good mix of virtual and physical candidates to lead the digital banking market. In such a competitive landscape, many experts envision a switchover in the bank market share next year.
Za Bank – First Virtual Bank In Hong Kong
To stand out from the traditional banks, Hong Kong’s leading virtual banks are aiming for wealth management and credit services as the goal for next year. Besides the top VBs, an early adopter of technology , Za Bank, who was ranked the fifth in the survey, as well as being Hong Kong’s first virtual bank. In an interview, Rockson Hsu, the CEO of ZA Bank, said “The next product we offer is wealth management. We are applying to the Securities and Futures Commission [SFC] for the relevant licences,”. Being the only virtual bank in Hong Kong that allows the sale of insurance-related products, Za Bank has certainly shown its ambition in providing a comprehensive portfolio of products and upgrade experience for their customers.
The digital banking playing field in Asia is still lagging behind the European competitors, for example, Belgium, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In these leading countries, mobile banking is ready to enter the next phase by offering services beyond ordinary banking activities, such as investment and insurance. Digital banking leaders can’t just sit back like the old days. They are here to level up the global digital banking battlefield.
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