The HKMA has taken a number of steps to deal with the account opening issue encountered by some corporate customers. Our aim is to maintain a robust AML/CFT regime in Hong Kong which does not undermine access by legitimate businesses and ordinary citizens to basic banking services.
Based on the comments and information collected by the HKMA, the difficulties faced by overseas small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups in opening bank accounts do not appear to be an industry-wide issue. The issue is pertinent amongst one or two international banks which are usually the first port of call for many companies seeking to open a bank account. There has been some improvement in the situation after the HKMA issued a circular on “De-risking and Financial Inclusion” to all banks in September 2016.
The HKMA attaches great importance to the issue concerning difficulties in opening bank accounts, and has embarked on a series of follow-up work, including:
“Risk-based” means that banks should differentiate the risk levels of individual customers in accordance with their backgrounds and circumstances, and apply proportionate risk-mitigating and CDD measures, rather than simply adopting a “one-size-fits-all” approach to all the customers in the approval process.