The Three-tier Banking System

Any corporation hoping to operate a banking business or a business of taking deposits must obtain a licence issued by the HKMA. Hong Kong maintains a three-tier system of deposit-taking institutions, comprising licensed banks, restricted licence banks, and deposit-taking companies. They are classified according to the amount and term of deposits accepted and the nature of the business, and are collectively known as authorized institutions

Type of
Deposit-taking Institutions
Licensed Banks Restricted Licence Banks Deposit-taking Companies


  • Operate current and savings accounts;
  • Accept deposits of any size and maturity from the public;
  • Pay or collect cheques drawn by or paid in by customers; and
  • Use the name “bank” without restriction
  • Principally engaged in merchant banking and capital market activities; and
  • May take deposits of any maturity of HK$500,000 and above
  • Mostly owned by, or otherwise associated with, banks;
  • Engage in a range of specialised activities, including consumer finance, commercial lending and securities business; and
  • May take deposits of HK$100,000 or above with an original term of maturity of at least three months

List of Institutions


Last revision date : 03 June 2024