Authorization Regime

Authorization Criteria of Authorized Institutions

Under the Banking Ordinance, the HKMA is responsible for the authorization of authorized institutions as well as suspension and revocation of such authorization. The HKMA has a general discretion under the Banking Ordinance to grant or refuse an application for authorization to operate a banking business or a business of taking deposits in Hong Kong. The HKMA is, however, obliged to refuse to authorize an applicant if the minimum criteria specified in the Seventh Schedule to the Banking Ordinance are not fulfilled. The authorization criteria are applicable both at the time of, and after, authorization. The HKMA assesses whether these criteria are being complied with on a continuing basis. The ground for revocation of authorization is set out under the Eighth Schedule to the Banking Ordinance.

Reference should therefore be made to the “Guideline on Minimum Criteria for Authorization” issued by the HKMA under section 16(10) of the Ordinance for details about the manner in which the HKMA will interpret these authorization criteria. Companies intending to apply for an authorization are recommended to study carefully the information and the requirements as set in the HKMA's Guide to Authorization particularly Chapter 2 - The Authorization Regime, Chapter 4 – Authorization, and Chapter 8 - Application Procedures.

Minimum Criteria for Authorization

The authorization criteria aim to ensure that only fit and proper institutions are entrusted with public deposits. They include, among others, 

  • Minimum capital requirement (including paid-up share capital and balance of share premium account);
    Licensed Banks HK$300 million
    Restricted Licence Banks HK$100 million
    Deposit-taking Companies HK$25 million
  • Whether the applicant is adequately supervised in its home country if it is an overseas bank;
  • Whether the chief executive, directors, controllers and executive officers of the applicant are “fit and proper”;
  • Whether the applicant’s financial positions, in respect of capital, liquidity and asset quality, are sound;
  • Whether the applicant’s internal controls and accounting systems are adequate; and
  • Whether the business of the applicant is carried out with integrity, prudence and competence.

The HKMA conducts periodic reviews of the authorization criteria and, when necessary, introduces amendments to reflect the changing needs of the regulatory environment and to meet new international standards.

Please click here for the authorization criteria of virtual banks.

Appeal Mechanism

To provide checks and balances, the HKMA is required under the Banking Ordinance to consult with the Financial Secretary on important authorization decisions, such as suspension and involuntary revocation. The Chief Executive-in-Council is the appellate body for hearing appeals against decisions made by the HKMA.


Hong Kong places no barrier to overseas banks operating locally in the territory, whether the transactions are conducted in Hong Kong dollars or other currencies.

Under the Deposit Protection Scheme Ordinance, all licensed banks in Hong Kong are members of the Scheme unless otherwise exempted by the Hong Kong Deposit Protection Board.

Should you have any enquires on application process for an approval to become an authorized institution in Hong Kong, please email to

Last revision date : 26 August 2019