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Is Airwallex an alternative to traditional banks for foreigners operating in Hong Kong?

Updated: May 10

Hong Kong is widely regarded as one of the world’s top international financial hubs. However, foreign companies seeking to establish themselves in Hong Kong often face hurdles opening corporate bank accounts, requiring extensive paperwork, in-person visits, and prolonged approval processes.


In light of these difficulties, next-generation money service operators (MSOs) like Airwallex have emerged as an appealing alternative for overseas businesses.


Cash counting machine

The Evolution of Money Services in Hong Kong


MSOs have a deeply-rooted history in Chinese commerce dating back centuries. They originated from small, family-run operations called “qianzhuang” banks that relied on reputation and trust to provide basic money changing and remittance services.


As Hong Kong rapidly developed into a global financial centre in the 19th century, these rudimentary money service providers progressively transformed into today’s formally licensed MSOs.


Under current Hong Kong laws, any entity offering currency exchange or cross-border remittance services requires an MSO license from the Customs and Excise Department to legally operate. This regulatory framework emerged to combat unlawful money laundering and terrorism financing.


With decades of experience navigating the complexities of cross-border payments and transactions, MSOs have cultivated valuable specialized expertise and technical capabilities. Their infrastructure allows greater speed and flexibility compared to traditional banks.


For overseas SMEs, MSOs provide more accessible business account services and multicurrency support without the extensive eligibility requirements and scrutiny imposed by banks. MSOs conduct tailored risk evaluations.


Global Payments & Online Business Accounts - Airwallex

Introducing Airwallex – The Next-Generation MSO


Founded in 2015, Airwallex leverages the capabilities of a licensed MSO while integrating modern APIs, software, and automation. Airwallex has raised over $900 million USD in funding from leading global investors to build robust financial infrastructure for frictionless borderless business growth.


Airwallex offers an expansive set of benefits, including:











This extensive functionality enables Airwallex to provide an end-to-end financial toolkit tailored for the needs of 21st century global businesses.


For clients looking to open a company in Hong Kong through ATHENASIA, we work very closely with Airwallex and provide free introduction service to streamline the bank account opening process.


Streamlining Cross-Border Complexities


For overseas entrepreneurs and SMEs seeking user-friendly, seamless financial services to operate globally out of Hong Kong, Airwallex unlocks opportunities.


By harnessing deep MSO capabilities and combining them with digital automation, Airwallex accelerates cross-border business for the modern era. Complex tasks like FX, vendor payments, liquidity management and compliance are simplified through its centralized platform.


Airwallex’s proprietary global payments infrastructure provides business accounts, card issuance, payment collection and payout capabilities without borders or restrictions. State-of-the-art data and analytics tools also enable customers to gain transparency into finances.


With expertise spanning payments, treasury management, card issuance, and embedded finance, Airwallex is uniquely positioned to propel international growth for foreign companies in Hong Kong.


As Hong Kong continues strengthening its position as a premier global business hub, next-generation MSOs like Airwallex provide the ideal launchpad for foreign companies to grow beyond borders. For SMEs struggling against rigid banking barriers, Airwallex provides a frictionless path to unlocking Hong Kong’s immense possibilities.



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