StanChart gets going on virtual bank

As one of the first three joint ventures granted a virtual banking license in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered has embarked on a PR effort to raise awareness of what it is doing. The bank’s Hong Kong CEO, Mary Huen Wai-yi, told the 21st Century Business Herald that the virtual bank will focus initially on providing basic deposit and lending services, which would not have minimum-balance requirements, while the process of opening an account would be easier than at a traditional bank.

Standard Chartered won the license in a venture together with Hong Kong Telecom, PCCW and China’s largest online travel agency, Ctrip. Huen did not reveal the product brand that will be offered by SC Digital Solutions, but said that it has already recruited around 100 staff from home and abroad.

Huen said the bank will ramp up its pre-opening operations over the next six to nine months. It is building capabilities in risk management, anti-money laundering, identity verification and online account set-up. The goal is to bring banking services into people’s day to day lifestyles – which are increasingly online. For example, if a user needs to book an overseas hotel through Ctrip, they should be able to do currency exchange and buy travel insurance seamlessly with the new bank.