Answer ... As a Tier 1 financial centre, Hong Kong naturally has a tough anti-money laundering regime. As such, one of the most difficult tasks that start-ups face is opening a bank account. This is even harder for fintech companies – especially those dealing with distributed ledger technology, due to its prior associations with illicit activities.
That said, there are a number of practical steps that tech start-ups can take to ease the process:
- Approach the right bank with the right personnel; don’t necessarily go for brand (eg, some banks are more proficient in and enthused by tech).
- Always have on hand all information regarding your company structure (it is essential that you can tell the bank who owns, operates and controls the company).
- Have a well-thought-out business plan. This is the key document that will be considered, as the bank needs to know that it will be servicing a viable business. The scale and associated risks must be clearly stated.
- Have people on the ground for face-to-face interviews. While it remains to be seen how virtual banks might change up this dynamic, at present face-to-face verification is still required.
- Open more than one bank account. It is not safe to keep all your eggs in one basket. Account closure is a real risk that businesses must face and in the event of a sudden closure, unless you have other accounts active, your business may come to a sudden halt.