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Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong - A Comprehensive Guide to Opening and Maintaining a Company in Hong Kong in 2024- Part 2

Updated: May 6

In the previous part of this series, we covered the basics of Hong Kong company registration.

However, operating a business effectively requires access to banking services. In this second installment, we'll delve into the intricacies of opening a bank account in Hong Kong, exploring the challenges, solutions, and practical tips to navigate this crucial aspect successfully.

Banking Challenges in Hong Kong

Prior to 2016, opening a bank account in Hong Kong was a relatively straightforward process. However, the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), coupled with enhanced anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) regulations, made banks extremely cautious about compliance. As a result, it became nearly impossible for foreigners, especially non-residents, to open bank accounts in Hong Kong during 2016 and 2017.

The Emergence of Money Service Operators (MSOs)

To address the banking challenges faced by businesses and individuals, Money Service Operators (MSOs) emerged as a viable alternative. MSOs operate under a custom license similar to that of Western Union, allowing them to provide deposit-taking, credit card, foreign exchange, and payment services. Unlike banks, MSOs do not invest clients' funds but offer segregated accounts in major banks to store and facilitate transfers.

The two most prominent MSOs in Hong Kong are:

Airwallex is a relatively new player in the Hong Kong market, having raised USD 1.1 billion in funding. Originally an Australian company, Airwallex offers a comprehensive suite of services tailored for e-commerce businesses, including a proprietary payment gateway akin to Stripe.

Currenxie was one of the early players in the MSO space, focusing on providing competitive foreign exchange rates. The company is well-managed and has built a solid business model from the outset, making it a reliable option for businesses.

While MSOs offer user-friendly interfaces and efficient services, it's important to note that client funds are not protected under Hong Kong's Deposit Protection Scheme. This scheme guarantees up to HK$800,000 (approximately USD 64,000) in case of a bank failure. As such, storing large sums of money with MSOs may not be advisable.

However, MSOs like Airwallex and Currenxie provide an excellent starting point for businesses, especially when opening a company with ATHENASIA Consulting. We offer our clients complimentary access to these MSO accounts as part of our package, ensuring a seamless transition into banking services without additional charges. Looking to open a bank account in Hong Kong? We offer a guaranteed bank account opening service, contact us for a free consultation.

The Rise of Virtual Banks

Another recent development in the Hong Kong banking landscape is the emergence of virtual banks. These institutions operate under actual banking licenses but resemble MSOs in their online-centric approach. The most well-known virtual bank in Hong Kong is ZA Bank, which currently limits account opening to Hong Kong residents and ID holders. However, as the virtual banking sector evolves, non-residents may gain access to these services in the future.

Traditional Bank Accounts

While HSBC has long been a go-to option for Hong Kong residents seeking bank accounts, non-residents often faced rejection or significant hurdles in the past. However, the situation has improved recently, with some traditional banks becoming more welcoming to foreign clients.

Two banks that ATHENASIA Consulting has successfully partnered with for non-resident account opening are:

OCBC Bank has a dedicated team catering to foreign clients, making it an attractive option for non-residents. They offer a pre-approval process, allowing applicants to have their case reviewed and approved before traveling to Hong Kong. Once approved, clients have a month to visit the city, meet their relationship manager, and complete the compliance process, ensuring a smooth account opening experience.

Bank of China has also shown openness towards non-resident clients. While they don't have a specialized team, visiting a branch and presenting a strong case can increase the chances of account approval for non-residents.|

It's worth noting that banking regulations and policies are subject to change, and the landscape can shift rapidly. As of the time of writing this article (April 2024), the information provided reflects the current state of the industry.


Opening a bank account in Hong Kong as a non-resident has become more feasible in recent years, thanks to the emergence of alternative options like MSOs and the gradual openness of traditional banks. By working with reputable firms like ATHENASIA Consulting , businesses can navigate the process smoothly, access tailored solutions, and establish a robust banking presence in Hong Kong.

In the next installment of this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the crucial role of company secretarial services and their significance in maintaining compliance and efficient operations for your Hong Kong company.


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