Hong Kong start-up Yintran aims to eliminate paper cheques and facilitate free money transfers

Cheque you later: old fashioned money transfers could be a thing of the past soon.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2016, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2016, 8:59pm

Hong Kong residents and small businesses can now do away with writing paper cheques or paying fees for interbank transfers thanks to Yintran, a financial technology start-up that allows its users to conduct money transfers for free online.

Founded in 2014, the Hong Kong-based money transfer network has over 20 partner banks in Hong Kong, and currently supports transfers for bank accounts in Hong Kong dollars or Chinese yuan.

Once users link their Yintran account to their personal bank account, they can top up their Yintran balance and make a funds transfer to contacts either via the Yintran website or mobile app.

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SL Robert Liu, founder of Yintran, said that he conceived the idea because of the inconvenience of having to write multiple paper cheques for bills and invoices he receives each month.

“About 150 million cheques are written in Hong Kong every year,” said Liu, adding that Yintran will make it more convenient for freelancers or property managers to get paid. Small businesses can also pay vendors or suppliers with Yintran instead of writing paper cheques.

“With Yintran, users won’t need to cash their cheques at banks any more, they can simply be paid through our network.”

Friends can also transfer money easily to each other across banks, without incurring any interbank transfer charges when processed through the banks’ internet banking system.

WATCH: Yintran’s money transfer system explained

One benefit that Yintran has is the ability for users to send money to a non-Yintran user, said Liu. Users can send a sum of money by entering a non-user’s e-mail address and the transaction amount, and the recipient will receive an e-mail link that allows them to sign up for an account and receive the money. Cash received can be deposited from Yintran back to their personal bank accounts for free.

Liu said that plans are in the pipeline to approach merchants in Hong Kong and encourage them to use Yintran, thereby eliminating point-of-sale terminals or credit card fees levied on merchants when users swipe their cards.

Similar to using Tencent’s mobile payments system WeChat Wallet or Alibaba-backed Alipay in China, users in Hong Kong can then make in-store payments by scanning a QR code with the Yintran app, where the cost of their purchase will be deducted from their wallet balance.

While WeChat has recently launched WeChat Wallet in Hong Kong, users can only link their credit cards to the service and can only make purchases within the app. Features available on the mainland, such as in-store payments and linking bank cards to WeChat Wallet are not currently present for Hong Kong users. Liu hopes to fill this gap in the market with Yintran.

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Yintran users are able to use its services for free within the first 12 months of signing up, according to the company. Subsequently, users will be charged a HK$25 annual fee.

Apart from helping consumers to transfer money more easily, Liu said that banks are also able to save a great deal of money when consumers use Yintran instead of issuing cheques.

“Clearing a cheque costs HK$15,” said Liu. “If everyone used Yintran instead of paper cheques, banks can save about HK$2 billion a year.”

Liu also said that Yintran is more user-friendly and convenient than the e-cheque service launched last December, which lets Hong Kong residents generate or cash in an electronic cheque in place of a paper one.