China』s biggest technology groups have won approval to launch digital banks in Hong Kong in a long-awaited assault on the financial sector that threatens local players such as HSBC and Standard Chartered and heralds future challenges in London and New York.
Tencent and Alibaba were granted banking licences by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, along with Xiaomi, the world』s fourth-largest smartphone maker, and Ping An, the world』s largest insurer, in what the city』s banking regulator called a 「milestone」.
Hong Kong is emerging as a 「proving ground」, said James Lloyd, head of fintech at consultants EY in Hong Kong. 「It』s not hard to imagine that several of these players have local, regional and even global ambitions.」
Traditional banks across Asia and the west have warned for several years that deep-pocketed technology companies were eyeing their turf — particularly in personal finance and payments — attracted by the prospect of valuable customer spending data.
Jes Staley, Barclays chief executive, has said banks need to defend themselves against encroachment from tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase chief executive, has warned that Silicon Valley wants to 「eat our lunch」.
巴克萊(Barclays)首席執行官傑斯•斯特利(Jes Staley)曾表示，各銀行需要保護自己的地盤不被亞馬遜(Amazon)、谷歌(Google)和蘋果(Apple)等科技公司侵佔。摩根大通(JPMorgan Chase)首席執行官傑米•戴蒙(Jamie Dimon)曾警告稱，矽谷要「吃掉我們的午餐」。
The industry has been lobbying financial regulators to hold their new tech competitors to the same data protection, cyber security and capital standards, arguing that supervisors have not moved fast enough and the playing field has been left uneven.
「We』ve obviously seen a large number of challenger banks and banklike fintechs emerge in the UK in recent years, many of them targeting the same subsets of customers,」 said Mr Lloyd. 「The difference here is how well capitalised the backers of most of these Hong Kong new entrants are.」
There are high hopes for the digital banks in the territory, where traditional incumbents dominate the market but customer satisfaction is among the lowest for a developed economy. Slightly less than a quarter of Hong Kong consumers believe their banks do a good job in offering an attractive digital bank proposition, according to Accenture research.
The Chinese-led companies join a number of groups already approved in March and April. Many Chinese companies have been granted licences, including online insurer ZhongAn Online and flight search company Ctrip.
Hong Kong』s move is tempting other Asian countries to follow suit — including Singapore, which is considering offering digital banking licences of its own.
Tencent and Alibaba have already stirred up a revolution in personal financial services and mobile payments in their home market. Goldman Sachs analysts have estimated that about $15bn, or 30 per cent, of the territory』s total banking revenue, is up for grabs.
Ian Brown, Hong Kong managing partner at Capco Digital in Hong Kong, which has built digital banking operations for several banks, said the combination of expertise and technology in the latest batch of licences was compelling. 「[This] is a threat to the existing institutions, which are being asked to up their game,」 Mr Brown said.
已為多家銀行建立虛擬銀行業務的Capco Digital的香港管理合伙人伊恩•布朗(Ian Brown)表示，在最新這批獲得牌照的公司中，專長與技術的結合引人注目。「（這）對現有機構構成了威脅，它們被要求提升自己的競爭力，」布朗表示。
The city of 7.7m people is dominated by HSBC, which earns more than half its profits and a third of revenues in Hong Kong. Though it already offers digital services, the bank will soon be directly competing for customers with the upstart companies.
HSBC did not apply for a digital banking licence, unlike StanChart, preferring to expand its existing digital platforms. The four largest banks — HSBC, Bank of China Hong Kong, Hang Seng Bank and StanChart — account for about two-thirds of all retail banking loans, according to Goldman Sachs.
與渣打不同，滙豐並未申請虛擬銀行牌照，而是選擇擴大其現有虛擬平台。高盛數據顯示，四大銀行——滙豐、中銀香港(Bank of China Hong Kong)、恒生銀行(Hang Seng Bank)和渣打——佔香港所有零售銀行貸款約三分之二。
The new additions will be 「transformational」 for the finance hub, according to Karen Man, a partner at Baker McKenzie in Hong Kong. 「This is going to be a whole new phase in Hong Kong for accessible banking services.」
貝克•麥堅時國際律師事務所(Baker & McKenzie)在香港的合伙人文凱彝(Karen Man)表示，這些新加入者將給香港這個金融中心帶來巨大改變。「就方便的金融服務而言，香港將進入一個全新階段。」
Tencent』s joint venture partners include Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the city』s stock market operator Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing. Its other partners include the Chinese private equity group Hillhouse Capital and Hong Kong entrepreneur Adrian Cheng.
騰訊的合資夥伴包括中國工商銀行(ICBC)和香港股市營運商香港交易所(HKEx)。該集團的其他合資夥伴包括中國私募股權集團高瓴資本(Hillhouse Capital)和香港企業家鄭志剛(Adrian Cheng)。
Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial was also granted a licence, while Xiaomi has teamed up with Hong Kong-based investment bank AMTD Group. Shenzhen-based Ping An gained a licence for its OneConnect fintech unit. They bring the number of licences issued by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority this year to eight.
阿里巴巴的關聯公司螞蟻金服(Ant Financial)也獲得了牌照，而小米與總部位於香港的投資銀行尚乘集團(AMTD Group)合作。總部位於深圳的平安為其金融科技公司金融壹帳通(OneConnect)爭取到了牌照。這意味著今年以來香港金融管理局頒發了八份虛擬銀行牌照。