March 13, 2019

Open Banking in Hong Kong – a Quick Overview

I just returned from Hong Kong where our Open Bank Project team helped organise a hackathon with HSBC teams.  The event was a great success, and brought students, entrepreneurs and bank employees together for a weekend of fintech innovation and software creation.

The trip was also a chance for me to become better acquainted with the Open Banking space in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has been pushing since last year for the adoption of Open Banking on the island. The initiative has brought the subject to the forefront of local retail banking sector discussions. The HKMA is keen to improve the customer experience and sees a tremendous opportunity for offering improved services via Open Banking, to beneficially impact the everyday lives of HK citizens.

The HKMA model is compelling in many respects:

  • Enforceability: compliance with the program is voluntary for banks, meaning it’s not mandated by law.
  • Target banks: the initiative targets the 20 licenced HK retail banks. So far, the market response has been largely favorable, helped by the voluntary approach to compliance. There is even a bank-owned entity offering open banking compliance services to its members.
  • Scope: the scope is of recommended APIs is fairly wide, covering everything from open data access to account information and payment initiation. HKMA recommends security standards but no API specifications or standards. Banks are free to develop their own specifications.
  • Governance: HMKA proposes a phased approach for adoption where banks are asked to open up gradually as shown below.

Source: Hong Kong Monetary Authority


  • TPP onboarding: HKMA proposed simplified terms and conditions to onboard partners (so-called TSPs) in a manner that ensures consumer protection. Banks can add/modify these proposed terms but at least have common ground from which to start.

In conclusion, these are some of the aspects that caught my eye. There is much more to say and the initiative is evolving as we speak. The HKMA model is an interesting case to study and can inspire other jurisdictions intending to leverage Open Banking for the benefit of the end consumers.

Access the HKMA full Open Banking Framework document here.

For a global overview of current open banking initiatives around the world, read our report “Regulating Open Banking”. Download it here