Bank workers' hopes of a shorter week were raised yesterday as the Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) hinted five-day clearing was more a case of when, not if. Bank branches, however, were likely to remain open on Saturdays, bankers said. HKAB chairman Peter Wong Tung-shun said details of five-day clearing - a pre-condition for a five-day week - would be announced on May 12. 'It's a key step for banks if they want to put in force a five-day week, but it's up to individual banks to decide whether they want to have a five-day week,' he said. Sources said five-day clearing - it is now six - might be implemented as early as September. Mr Wong declined to comment. 'There are still some details that need to be solved and the working group will submit the final report to us at the end of this month,' he added. He said that both electronic payments and cheques were likely to move to five-day clearing simultaneously. Mr Wong said even if banks decided to have a five-day week, he believed lenders would continue to provide banking services through branches on Saturday. Executive director at HSBC, Mr Wong said the bank had been studying the five-day week issue but not yet made a decision. Raymond Or Ching-fai, vice-chairman and chief executive at Hang Seng Bank, agreed that the probability of lenders adopting a five-day week would be very high if the clearing issue could be resolved. 'However, we still have to look at other issues before any decision will be made on a five-day week, such as costs,' he said. 'Since banking branches will still be opened on Saturday, that means not all the staff are working for five days, so we have to work things out [such as how to compensate those staff who work on Saturday].'