Jim Rogers-backed ITF to miss August deadline for virtual bank licence in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 8:52pm

ITF, a fintech company backed by US veteran investor Jim Rogers, plans to apply for a virtual bank licence in Hong Kong, but will not rush to meet the first application deadline on August 31.

The fintech firm would prefer to wait for more details about regulations, according to its adviser Ignious Yong.

“We would like to wait for the HKMA to issue the first batch of licences so that we can study what type of business models or business lines would be more suitable for us to develop to get a virtual bank licence,” Yong said in a media briefing Friday.

Rogers, 75, is one of the initial investors in ITF, which was set up in October by Lim Hui Jie. Lim was formerly chief executive of the Australia-listed technology company Digimatic Group.

Jim Rogers funded new fintech bank ITF to set up headquarters in Hong Kong

ITF focuses on providing technology for banks and other financial firms. It has about 1,000 corporate clients in the region, mainly in Hong Kong and Singapore. In June ITF completed its second round of financing, gaining new investor Victor Or, the son of former Hang Seng Bank chief executive Raymond Or Ching-fai.

Aside from investing in the company, Victor Or’s fintech platform Giant Financial Services also signed an agreement Friday with ITF to team up on products.

Separately, ITF also signed an agreement with online insurance platform Get MDream Wealth Management for cooperation on online products and services development.

“By leveraging on Giant Financial Services and Get MDream Wealth Management’s experience and connection, ITF is poised to develop its fintech banking platform as well as apply for a virtual banking licence in Hong Kong,” Lim said in a media briefing on Friday.

Virtual banks close to reality as Hong Kong issues guidelines with 50 companies showing interest

In September, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced seven measures including the launch of a virtual bank in Hong Kong to enhance fintech development. The authority in May began accepting applications for virtual bank licences, which allows the provision of online banking services without the need to maintain physical bank branches.

The HKMA’s deputy chief executive Arthur Yuen said 50 firms have so far expressed interest in the new banking license ahead of the August 31 deadline. Online lender WeLab, Standard Chartered Bank and payment operator Yedpay! have indicated they would apply for a license

Separately, the HKMA on Tuesday also announced a range of measures to encourage banks to work with technology firms to promote new services.

HKMA lays out guidelines to help banks in fintech push

Raymond Or also attended the event on Friday to show support for his son. The veteran banker who held senior positions at HSBC and Hang Seng Bank before retiring, is now executive chairman of apparel retailer Esprit Holdings.

“The new regulations on virtual banks would benefit a lot of small customers and companies. Many of these small companies find it hard to get services or to open an account at traditional banks. The virtual bank would fill in the gap to provide services to these customers,” Or said.