- Incorporation services
- Business banking
- Online account opening
- Multi-currency wallet
- Corporate cards
Hong Kong’s banking market has come under “attack” by challenger banks in recent years. Local and outsider banks all want a piece of the pie. And Neat is certainly one of them.
Read all about this neobank in our Neat review, but first, here’s our short verdict:
Neat has placed all their focus on the small business owners around the world that are looking for a gateway to Hong Kong and its straightforward tax scheme. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Neat will not disappoint with its no-frills business account and corporate Visa cards.
Neat had its start in 2015 when David Rosa, the current CEO, and Igor Wos, the current CTO founded this challenger bank in Hong Kong. They both have successful projects behind them and a lot of experience in the financial sector.
Neat has now grown to over 70 employees in 2 international offices – Hong Kong and London. They’ve raised more than $20 million in funding and have had more than 30,000 customers with more than $700 million transferred.
They stopped taking applications for personal accounts and are mainly focused on making banking and finances more accessible for entrepreneurs, SMEs, and ambitious young companies.
What is so special about Neat?
Neat is located in Hong Kong but is open for businesses worldwide. Neat offers an excellent platform for business customers who want clarity, transparent fees, and high control over spending and budgets.
If you still don’t have a company and/or would like to open one in Hong Kong, Neat is offering online-exclusive incorporation. In other words, you can apply for a limited company and a bank account in 15 minutes from halfway around the world sitting in your pajamas without the need to go anywhere.
Pros & Cons
- Easy to sign up online
- Receive payments in multiple currencies
- No monthly fees
- Good business account
- Virtual cards
- Corporate Visa cards with no fees
- Company registration
- 1% cashback on all purchases
- Limited corporate liability and travel accident protection
- Multi-currency funds can’t be held indefinitely
- Not a licensed bank
- No personal accounts anymore
- Not available in every country
- The Neat Visa card is only available for Hong Kong customers
One of the unique selling points of Neat for business customers is that the app offers a unique way to keep track of spending and managing budgets for employees.
You can create custom accounts and limit payments for each Neat card you manage, verify transactions, and enjoy simple expenses reimbursement systems.
One drawback is that you can continue to collect incoming payments in your multi-currency Neat wallet, but you should move any funds received as soon as possible and in no longer than 90 days. You can do this easily by making regular outgoing payments and card transactions.
How to open a Personal Neat bank account?
There’s no way to open a personal Neat bank account at the moment. They did offer this service before but now there’s no trace of it and no sign that the personal account will come back anytime soon.
We contacted the bank to find out more about this, and once they come back to us, we’ll update the article.
UPDATE 14 April 2021: The company representative said in an email response that “they have stopped taking applications for Neat Personal cards until further notice.”
How to open a Neat Business account?
Opening a business account with Neat Bank is relatively easy and done online. Here are the steps:
- Open the signup form on their website
- Enter the basic information required to open the account
- Verify your phone number, and submit the information related to your business
- Verify your company’s legal information
- List all members of the company
- Describe the nature of your business
- Sign and confirm your application
- Review their fee structure
- It can take up to a week for their review to be completed
You’ll need the following company documents:
- Board Resolution
- For companies incorporated in Hong Kong: Valid Business Registration Certificate (BR) issued by the Inland Revenue Department
- For companies incorporated in the British Virgin Island and the Cayman Islands: The following digital documents must be submitted directly to Neat by the local incorporation agent:
- Certificate of Incumbency
- Certificate of Incorporation; and
- Article of Association
All Directors, Shareholders, and Account Users will also need:
- Photo of ID
- People’s Republic of China (PRC) Nationals: Both sides of PRC Resident Identity Card
- Other nationals should submit a photo of their passport’s biometric page.
- Selfie holding the valid ID
Neat doesn’t accept Hong Kong Identity Card (Permanent/Non-Permanent Resident).
You can also open a company directly with Neat from anywhere in the world.
What companies are eligible to open a Neat Business account?
There are some limitations as to what kind of businesses can open a Neat Business account and from which country they come from.
Neat can only process payments and provide services to cardholders, companies with shareholders, or directors, that have a nationality and a residential address in Austria, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Canada, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, and others. Find the complete list on their website.
Neat also has an extensive list of industries that they don’t support. Industries such as adult entertainment & escort services, antique dealers, arms, defense, or military, charities, embassies and consulates, pharmaceutical & health, political or religious organizations among others. Find the complete list here.
- Free dedicated payment instructions
- Free account opening and maintenance
- No monthly fees
- No card replacement fee
- Free domestic transactions
- 1.5% Foreign Merchant fee
- ATM withdrawal – 2% (US$4/HK$25 Minimum Fee)
- From HKD Neat wallet to Hong Kong bank account – HK$30
- From USD Neat wallet to Hong Kong bank account – US$8
- From GBP Neat wallet to account within SEPA – free
- From EUR Neat wallet to account within SEPA – free
- International Payment – HK$90 / US$12
- FPS Payment from Hong Kong bank account to HKD Neat wallet – HK$2
- Express Payment from Hong Kong bank account (CHATS) to HKD/USD Neat wallet – HK$15/US$2
- SEPA Payment to EUR/GBP Neat wallet – free
- International Payment to HKD/USD Neat wallet – HK$65/US$13.5
Neat Company Registration
You could have a company in Hong Kong in less than a week. Yes, that’s the level of service that Neat brings to the table with its incorporation service.
What’s required to open a company in Hong Kong?
In order to open a company in Hong Kong, you’ll have to meet the following requirements:
- At least 1 shareholder
- 1 director (this has to be a person, not a company or other type of legal entity)
- 1 licensed company secretary (included in the Neat Registration package)
- 1 registered address (included in the Neat Registration package)
- Completed NNCI and IRB1 forms (included in the Neat Registration package)
- Significant Controller Register (included in the Neat Registration package)
- Certificate of Registration (HKD 1,720) and Business Registration (HKD 250) (included in the Neat Registration package)
Here’s where Neat steps in. For 650 USD, they will do all the legwork for you and you’ll automatically receive a Neat Account. Here’s what’s included in the process and what the $650 will get you:
- Filling out registration documents (NNC1 – IRB1)
- Payment of government fees (Registration Fee: HKD 1,720, Business Registration Fee: HKD 250)
- 1 year of registered and correspondence address
- Company secretary for 1 year
- Initial consulting after company registration
- Creation of the Significant Controller Register (SCR)
- e-GreenBox is a digital copy of all your documents: certificate of incorporation, business registration, articles of association, share certificate
- 1 certified true copy of all your documents, kept at their partner office in case you need them
Why do entrepreneurs and business owners from all around the world flock to open a company in Hong Kong? There are multiple good reasons; including that you’re entering into the international market and enjoying the benefits from tax-friendly jurisdiction with establishing a company in HK.
In other words: It’s the taxes of course as HK has one of the lowest and most simple tax jurisdictions in the world.
Neat Corporate Cards
- Apply in 15 minutes
- Visa-branded card
- No hidden charges or monthly fees
- 24/7 chat support and emergency hotline
- Limited corporate liability and travel accident protection
- 1% cashback on all purchases
- Great for tracking expenses
Neat recently switched from Mastercard to Visa cards which took away most of the fees connected with corporate cards. The Neat Visa card is only available for Hong Kong customers.
There is a Neat mobile app, and it’s very well designed indeed. As a primarily online banking service, Neat’s put a lot of effort into creating a mobile app that runs smoothly and serves as a hub for your banking needs.
How is Neat regulated?
Although Neat is a trustworthy and secure digital banking solution, it’s not a bank.
In Hong Kong, Neat Limited is a holder of Money Service Operator Licence, Trust or Company Service Provider Licence, and Money Lender’s Licence.
In the UK on the other hand, Neat Global Limited is an agent of PayrNet Limited which is an e-money institution authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 for the issuing of electronic money.
Is my money safe with Neat?
Because Neat is officially not a bank, your deposits aren’t insured by a government institution.
Your funds are protected in other ways though. They are held in segregated accounts in licensed and reputable banks, either in Hong Kong or in the UK depending on which currency you’re holding.
Neat also has other more direct ways to ensure their platform is safe:
- PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant
- Transport Layer Security (TLS) encrypted data
- All code is peer-reviewed and checked for potential threats and vulnerabilities
- 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
Who owns Neat?
Neat was founded in 2015 in Hong Kong by David Rosa (CEO) and Igor Wos (CTO). They are both serial entrepreneurs with backgrounds in banking and finances.
Rosa has over 20 years of experience in the financial services sector and was the youngest Managing Director at Citi in Asia and Wos co-founded TofuPay, an online payment solution, and built financial systems at Fidessa and UCL.
The company had four funding rounds with a total of $20 million raised. Pacific Century Group (PCG), Visa, and MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia are among some of its investors.
There’s no shortage of competitors in the Hong Kong market as eight digital banks were granted a banking license at the end of 2020.
Another digital bank from Hong Kong offers a more comprehensive financial product than Neat. Apart from a good business account, ZA offers a personal account, loans, and insurance products. The difference between the two is that ZA Bank has a full banking license and all deposits are insured up to HK$500,000 per depositor.
Airstar Bank is a joint venture by Xiaomi Corporation, a well-known technology leader, and AMTD Group, Asia’s leading comprehensive financial services conglomerate.
Airstar is another digital only bank that launched successfully in Hong Kong. They have a high-interest savings deposit with 3.6% interest for the first HKD 20,000 saved on offer. Airstar also charges no extra fee for early uplift of time deposit and has a 24/7 FPS instant transfer.
The Bottom Line
All in all, Neat is offering an easy entrance into Hong Kong for businesses that want to open a virtual Hong Kong account or open a company in Hong Kong. Although the account that they offer has some restrictions, no monthly fees and relative ease of opening an account might be worth it for business people from around the world.