02 April 2019

KWM advises on ZhongAn’s successful virtual banking licence application

King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) advised ZhongAn Virtual Finance Limited (ZAVFL) on its successful application for a virtual banking licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

ZAVFL marks one of the first three companies acquiring virtual banking licences in Hong Kong issued by the HKMA, the government authority in Hong Kong responsible for maintaining monetary and banking stability. ZAVFL’s licence took effect on 27 March 2019.

A seamless KWM Hong Kong and PRC team advised on various aspects of the virtual banking licence application, including regulatory issues, cybersecurity, privacy, corporate structuring, as well as the overseas direct investment approval process and anti-trust filings.

Prior to ZAVFL’s official launch of its virtual bank business, KWM will continue to advise on financial regulatory issues relating to the virtual bank’s establishment and operations, including digital onboarding, account documentation and any regulatory issues.

Commenting on this collaboration Hong Kong partner Minny Siu said, “Congratulations to ZhongAn for being the pioneer in launching virtual banking services in Hong Kong. This project involves the establishment of a new banking entity in Hong Kong with an innovative business model. This is a breakthrough for Hong Kong’s progression into smart banking and we are proud to be involved in this project.”

Richard Mazzochi, Head of Banking & Finance practice of KWM Hong Kong added, that “the launch of the virtual banking licences signals Hong Kong’s commitment to propelling innovation, one of the key pillars of our business model.” 

Stanley Zhou, Co-Head of Financial Institution & Finance of KWM said, “The successful delivery of this transaction demonstrates our strength in offering a one-stop-shop with international and PRC capabilities to address innovative finance and cross-border regulatory issues.”

Hayden Flinn, Co-Chief Executive of KWM Hong Kong added, “We have been assisting clients to set up virtual bank platforms since February 2018 and this success, along with our regulatory and fintech capabilities, will add value for future virtual bank applications in Hong Kong and the development of innovation and technology in the Greater Bay Area region.”

The KWM Hong Kong and PRC team advised ZAVFL in respect of Hong Kong and PRC laws. The Hong Kong team was led by partners Minny Siu, Richard Mazzochi, Hayden Flinn and Peter Bullock. The PRC team was led by partners Stanley Zhou and Chai Zhifeng.

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