Banking & Finance

Bank of China rolls out the red carpet to serve cross border needs of premium customers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 December, 2017, 11:03pm

Hongkongers and mainlanders in nine Guangdong cities can enjoy priority cross border banking services under recent initiatives by the city’s second largest bank, which aims to grow its cross-border revenues in the Greater Bay Area by 40 to 50 per cent annually.

Bank of China (Hong Kong), the city’s offshoot of Bank of China - the nation’s fourth biggest lender by assets, is tapping rising cross-border transactions and investment demand in the “area” that covers nine Guangdong cities surrounding the Pearl River estuary, besides Hong Kong and Macau.

“It is very clear that the Greater Bay Area will exceed our overall cross-border business growth due to greater economic integration,” Sun Dawei, the bank’s general manager of personal banking and wealth management department told reporters on Friday.

The bank’s overall cross-border services revenue has grown 30 per cent in the first 10 months from the same period last year, he said, while that from customers in the Greater Bay Area contributed 30 to 40 per cent of the total.

While the bank, known as BOCHK, is striving to reach 40 to 50 per cent revenue growth target in the area, it will depend on customers’ asset allocation decisions, which are affected by factors such as the value of the yuan against the Hong Kong dollar and stock market conditions, he said.

Through better transportation links and economic integration, Beijing hopes the Greater Bay Area to one day catch up to other bay areas in Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo in terms of economic clout.

BOCHK and its parent recently boosted their service offerings to better capture opportunities from cross-border needs of their customers.

BOCHK’s premium account holders will have priority access to services and advice from dedicated wealth managers at mainland branches of its parent if they keep 50,000 yuan of assets on the mainland.

Similarly, mainland customers of its parent will enjoy similar privileges when they use BOCHK’s services in Hong Kong, provided they keep HK$200,000 (US$25,600) of financial assets with BOCHK.

Due to regulatory restrictions, to enjoy cross border services, customers still need to have accounts both sides of the border and must travel to open accounts and do major transactions.

“We have been actively communicating with regulators [on ways to improve this], especially on introducing technologies to confirm customers’ identities,” Sun said.

“In the meantime, customers with cross-border transaction and investment needs can make appointments with our account managers before they set off on cross border trips to save time,” Sun said.

As part of its offerings to make life easier for cross border travellers, BOCHK has launched a dual currency credit card which allows its Hong Kong customers to make cashless payment for small item purchases on the mainland, such as public transit rides and private car hire services.