“Making Hong Kong great again” – HKMA clarifies AML/CTF expectations to promote financial inclusion and entrepreneurialism

September was a busy month for Hong Kong regulators, with in-tandem efforts to enhance financial inclusion, while emphasising the importance of controls.

In particular, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has stepped up its efforts to balance its strong messages of compliance with the need to ensure Hong Kong remains globally competitive and responsive to an increasingly innovative and digitised financial services market.

What is happening?

Our full alert (available here) describes four key developments involving:

  1. financial inclusion and “de-risking”;
  2. clarifying account opening misconceptions;
  3. harnessing technology, to facilitate “digital” relationships; and
  4. SFC investigation outcomes, including a renewed focus on monitoring and supervision.

The developments in Hong Kong are not unique – they reflect a global trend that is gaining momentum to ensure that regulation responds to innovation.  This also links with initiatives such as the HKMA’s FinTech Supervisory Sandbox, which we covered in an earlier post available here.

What’s next?

There is no doubt that the focus on policy, procedure, resources, infrastructure and training will remain at all regulatory levels.

However, the key trend we are seeing from the HKMA is an acknowledgment that Hong Kong must remain competitive in the global financial services market. And that means providing an environment for start-ups and SMEs in which they can function commercially…with a bank account.

There is a lot still to happen in 2016 – watch this space.

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