- Easy to open an account
- Personal and business savings acc
- Deposits are insured
- Up to 3.6% p.a.
- 24/7 instant transfers
- Time deposits
- Personal loans
- Foreign exchange
There are eight new virtual challenger banks on the Hong Kong market and today we’re reviewing the Airstar Bank. Find out how the startup stacks up against other digital banks in our Airstar Bank review. But first, here’s our short verdict:
Those looking for competitive savings accounts and easy-to-apply personal loans should give Airtstar a chance. They are offering solid promotional interest rates and are backed by two giant IT companies – Xiaomi and AMTD.
About Airstar Bank
Airstar has been in the banking business since 2019, when it was granted a banking license by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. It’s a joint venture of two well-known and successful companies – Xiaomi Corporation and AMTD Group.
Why is Airstar Bank so special?
Airstar is one of the eight new virtual banks in Hong Kong. They decided to focus on savings accounts for both personal and business customers. They are known for their high-interest rates that are part of continuous promotions developed to acquire more customers to this young startup.
Although the company is still in its infancy, we’re sure that it will grow at a fast rate as long as they continue offering these outstanding and probably unsustainable interest rates to lure in new users.
The HK fintech does have a mobile app available at both Apple and Google stores but it doesn’t have a debit card.
Pros and cons
- High promotional interest rates
- Fast account opening times
- No minimum balance required
- No debit card
- No ATM withdrawals
- Only three currencies supported
No monthly, early withdrawal, or handling fees. No extra fee for early uplift of time deposit. No minimum balance requirement for the savings account.
Who can open an Airstar account?
To open an Airstar personal account, you have to be a non-US Hong Kong tax resident with a Hong Kong ID. And you have to be older than 18.
To open a streamlined corporate account, your company must be small to medium-sized and established in Hong Kong. It has to have less than 50 employees or an annual turnover of less than HKD800 million.
How to open an Airstar Bank account?
To open an Airstar bank account, download the Airstar app from Google Play and Apple Store and follow the simple instructions. You’ll have to fill in your details that include your name, address, phone number, and email.
You’ll also have to verify your account with a picture of your ID and a selfie, as well as answer a few standard questions.
Some users have reported issues with trying to scan the ID and not being able to open an account, therefore. You can try reaching out to Airstar customer support if that’s the case for you.
How to add funds to Airstar’s account?
You can transfer funds from other banks to Airstar Bank by using the following:
- Via mobile number/email address:
- Register your FPS proxy ID (i.e. mobile number or email address) with Airstar Bank
- Log in to your payer bank’s Mobile App or Internet Banking and input your registered mobile number/email address with the amount you want to transfer. Select “395 Airstar Bank Limited” as the payee bank.
- Via account number:
- Copy your Airstar Bank account number by choosing “My Account” in the upper right-hand corner.
- Log in to your payer bank’s Mobile App or Internet Banking and input your Airstar Bank account number. Select “395 Airstar Bank Limited” as the payee bank. If branch code is required, input “755”.
- Via e-Deposit:
- Link your account in another bank
- Input the amount which you need to transfer from that account to the Airstar Bank account
How to transfer the money from Airstar to my bank account?
You can use the Airstar Bank app to transfer money with Faster Payment System (FPS) in HKD and CNY to any participating local banks. The FPS is available 24/7 and is free of charge.
It’s a real-time payment platform where you can use mobile numbers or email addresses to make local money transfers.
Log on to the Airstar Bank app:
- Select “Transfer”
- Press “+” in the bottom right-hand corner to select the transferring method:
- account number
- mobile number
- email address
- Input payee details
- Choose “register and transfer” if you want to register the payee. Otherwise, choose “transfer only”
- Type in the amount you want to transfer to the payee
- Confirm the transaction by two-factor authentication
Airstar Bank is offering a regular savings account and a time deposit. With a Savings Account, you can withdraw the account balance when you need it. With a Time Deposit, you agree to deposit the money for a specified time with a fixed interest rate guaranteed for the whole duration of the Time Deposit.
- 3.6% p.a. for the first HKD20,000
- Mobile account opening
- No minimum balance
- HKD/USD/CNY accounts available
At the moment of writing, Airstar offered its new customers a promotional interest rate of 3.60% for the first HKD20,000. The standard rate is a more down-to-earth 1.20%. Between 20,000 and a million HKD, the rate is 0.50%, and above 1 million, it’s 0.10%.
For USD accounts, the interest rate is 0.10% for any amount, and for CNY, it’s 0.25%. To check the current Saving Account and Time Deposit rates of different currencies, go to the Airstar website and mobile app, or contact the hotline at (852)3718 1818.
- Choose the maturity date
- Minimum initial deposit from HKD 1,000
- Take out anytime without extra fees
- HKD/USD/CNY accounts available
Airstar’s Time Deposit is offered in HKD, CNY, and USD. The minimum deposit amount is 1,000 HKD/CNY/USD, and the maximum deposit amount is HKD5,000,000/CNY1,000,000/USD1,000,000.
The pre-set deposit tenors of 7 days to 12 months are available, but you can choose any date between 7 days and 12 months as the maturity date. If you set up a Time Deposit on 1 January 2021, you may set the maturity date to any date between 8 January 2021 to 31 December 2021.
You can take your money out of the Time Deposit at any time before the maturity date takes place without any extra fees. But you have to know that you won’t receive the Time Deposit interest. Instead, the savings base of 0.10% will be applied.
This new addition to the Airstar service portfolio started in May 2021 when the company launched a pilot trial and invited 100 SMEs to participate. You can open SME accounts as quickly as 48 hours, and the account opening fee and monthly management fee will be waived. There is also no minimum balance requirement for the first year.
The pilot is open to wholly-owned or single-tier joint-stock companies established in Hong Kong with annual revenue of less than 800 million or fewer than 50 employees, and the applicants and connected parties must hold a Personal Banking Account at Airstar Bank.
The trial companies will get a record 1% p.a. Interest rate for their first HKD1 million deposit. That’s the promotional rate, of course, that could plummet at any time. Here are the official savings rates at the time of writing:
- First $1,000,000 – 1.00%
- Above $1,000,000 – 0.10%
- USD: 0.10%
- CNY: 0.25%
Apart from savings deposits, Airstar Bank is developing a brand new loan product to improve the current market practice and address the financing pain points of enterprises, as they say. There’s not much more to say about the corporate account at this point, and we’ll keep an eye on its development.
Airstar is offering personal loans and debt consolidation loans with excellent promotional interest rates.
- Easy to apply online
- APR from 0.99% to 28.14%
- Repayment period 6-60 months
- Loan amount up to 12x of monthly salary or HKD1,000,000
- No income proof and address proof required in some cases
- No handling fee and administration fee for loan application
Airstar’s personal loans have a promotional APR of only 0.99%. The company is also offering the first 60 days without interest and repayments for customers that apply for a loan amount lower than HKD200,000.
Outside of these promotions, the range of APR is 2.99%-28.14% with a repayment period of 6 to 60 months.
You can apply online at any time with no handling and administration fees and in some instances, without income proof or address proof, courtesy of big data analysis.
Debt Consolidation Loan
- APR from 2.99% to 35.81%
- Repayment period 12-72 installments
- Up to 21 times of monthly salary or HKD2,000,000
- No handling fee and administration fee
If you want to consolidate your credit card debt, for instance, you can take out Airstar’s debt consolidation loan of up to HKD2 million or up to 21 times your monthly salary, whatever comes first.
The APR ranges from 2.99% to 35.81% with a repayment period of 12 to 72 installments. The company is running a promotion here as well so you can get the first 60 days interest and repayment free and the option to cash out part of the loan amount of up to 12 times of your monthly salary.
How is Airstar Bank regulated?
Airstar Bank has been granted a banking license by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in May 2020 and is one of only 8 virtual banks in Hong Kong. The others include ZA Bank, Mox Bank, Livi Bank, Ping An OneConnect Bank, Fusion Bank, WeLab Bank, and Ant Bank.
Is my money safe with Airstar?
Although a digital or virtual bank, Airstar is a part of the Deposit Protection Scheme, and all your deposits up to HKD500,000 are protected if the company goes bust. The only caveat is that any time deposit with a term of over 5 years is not covered under the Deposit Protection Scheme.
Hong Kong’s virtual banks have to follow all the rules for conventional banks.
Who owns Airstar Bank?
Airstar is a joint venture of two large companies that you might have heard of – Xiaomi Corporation and the AMTD Group.
Xiaomi is currently the world’s fourth-largest smartphone brand, which was a remarkable feat for a company that was established in 2010. in 2020, this well-known Chinese company was ranked 384th on the Forbes Global 2000 list.
AMTD Group is a preeminent, comprehensive financial services conglomerate and one of Asia’s largest financial services companies. In 2019, they became the first Hong Kong financial institution to be listed on the US capital market.
It’s easy to contact Airstar customer service. Here are several ways to do it:
- 24-hour Banking Hotline: +852 3718 1818
- Email Address: email@example.com
- Mobile App: Contact Us > Select Opinion or Compliment
- Mail: Suites 3201-07, 32/F, Tower 5, The Gateway, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
ZA Bank has got you covered whether you need to deposit, borrow, or transfer money in multiple currencies. ZA stands out for its simplicity in applying for and granting essential financial products in a market that is getting extremely competitive.
Ant Bank is the digital banking division of China-based Ant Group affiliated with the giant conglomerate Alibaba. Ant Bank account is easy to open; all you need is a phone and your HKID.
They offer a high annual interest rate of 2% for the first HKD 20,000, accessible “FPS,” transfers that can be done with your mobile number, email address, bank account number, or FPS ID.
The youngest of the bunch, Mox Bank is an excellent mobile bank attracting more and more people of Hong Kong to its lair. We especially love the ability to seamlessly switch between debit and credit capabilities at the touch of the button.
The bottom line
Airstar may not have a checking like some other digital banks in Hong Kong, but it does have stellar personal and corporate savings account with promotional interest rates running all the time. They also offer competitive personal loans and support for HKD/USD/CNY currency exchange.
We’re sure that these high interest rates will attract a new customer base but there’s no telling of how long the rates will continue.
Adrian Volenik is a fintech enthusiast who loves testing and reviewing digital banking apps and financial products in general. How many digital banking accounts can one man have? Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.