Out of all the exciting developments within fintech in the last few years, the approval of virtual banks in Hong Kong is a major one already disrupting the status quo of banking. Using technology that handles all transactions via virtual channels such as the internet, email, mobile and ATM machines, and without physical branches, virtual banking will have a major effect on the financial services market in the near future.
Within Asia, the Hong Kong market has recently opened its doors to the innovation that virtual banking will bring. The Hong Kong Monetary Association (HKMA) has issued 8 virtual banking licenses so far this year, with those banks aiming to launch operations within 6-9 months of when they received the license. While there are stringent regulations and requirements to enter the market, the opening of this sector will have an interesting impact on both the fintech industry and financial services as a whole.
Mr Norman T.L. Chan, Chief Executive of the HKMA had this to say about the granting virtual banking licenses in a statement, “The introduction of virtual banks in Hong Kong is a key pillar supporting Hong Kong’s entry into the Smart Banking Era. It is a major milestone in reinforcing Hong Kong’s position as a premier international financial centre. I believe that virtual banks will not only help drive fintech and innovation, but also bring about brand new customer experiences and further promote financial inclusion in Hong Kong.”
Advantages of virtual banking for customers
Virtual banking has many advantages for customers, the first being that virtual banks will be available 24/7 for all services. Traditional banking or business hours will no longer limit transactions and services that can be accessed. Customers can take much greater control over some banking processes, making transactions online or through an app.
Additionally, without the overhead of physical branches, virtual banks may be able to pass that savings on to customers in the form of things like better interest rates or lower fees.
Backed by major financial players such as Tencent, Xiaomi, ICBC, Standard Chartered and many others, these new virtual banks are backed by reputable companies already established within the financial services market.
Virtual banking and hiring: a competitive market for professionals
The opening of virtual banking is also having a positive effect on the hiring market, as investments begin to pour in from investors looking to be a part of the newest in fintech in Hong Kong.
Virtual banks are already hiring, and we are seeing a large volume of headcount opening up for roles within technology, product, operations, business strategy, IT security and risk skills.
Companies are looking for professionals skilled in cybersecurity and privacy, as customer data protection will be an essential priority for these online banks. Additionally, developers and product specialists are in high demand, as many of these virtual banks are building new products from the scratch. This presents an exciting opportunity for many professionals, as opposed to having to work within existing infrastructures at large, established traditional banks.
Additionally, demand is high for those skilled in compliance, technology risk management, and those who understand HKMA regulations thoroughly. Finally, virtual banking institutions need professionals who specialise in data analytics, cloud services and block chain.
Companies are already aggressively hiring, and while they do need some time to build up a reputation to attract top talent, some find that talent is coming to them. Virtual banking is seen as the next big thing in fintech and many professionals with the above skill sets are eager to make the move into the industry.
PageGroup: Getting into the market quickly
At PageGroup, we have been partnering with clients in this space over the last 12 months as they build their proposition and expansion plans. Similarly, we have been proactively building a community of talent to fulfil a job market need. Working closely with many of the top players in this highly competitive market, we are helping these new companies define hiring needs, refine hiring practices and find suitable talent, delivering them effectively.
As a result of virtual banking, more focus has been placed on retail banking candidates at mid to senior levels looking to transition their skillset into the virtual banking sphere. These candidates have never been as high in demand as now.
Additionally, the majority of virtual banks have China ownership, demonstrating itself as a key country leading the way on the innovation front.
Lastly, a lot of key developer roles are sitting across the border in Shenzhen for a number of these players.
Download the Michael Page Hong Kong Fintech Employment 2019 Guide here.
For more information about hiring within virtual banking or fintech within Hong Kong, please contact us for a chat.
Article written by Sharmini Wainwright, Senior Managing Director, Michael Page