- Multi-currency savings account
- 1% savings rate
- Time deposits
- Business banking
- FPS transfers
ZA Bank was the first digital (virtual) bank that hit the ground running in Hong Kong. Backed by Mainland capital and know-how, the challenger bank now has more than 300,000 customers. Read more in our ZA Bank review but first, here’s our short verdict:
Whether you need to deposit, borrow, or transfer money in multiple currencies, ZA Bank has got you covered. In a market that is getting extremely competitive, ZA stands out for its simplicity in applying for and granting essential financial products.
About ZA Bank
ZA Bank is one of eight digital banks in the Hong Kong market and is a joint venture of ZhongAn Online and Best Group.
ZhongAn Online is an Internet company from mainland China, that was founded by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma, and Ping An Insurance’s Mingzhe Ma where it’s known as “China’s No.1 Internet Insurance Company.”
ZA Bank was the first to start its pilot program in 2019 when you could open an account with an invitation only.
It was also the first one to open after a trial program. And it came out of the gate strong by giving a special offer of 6% interest on a three-month time deposit.
ZA Bank has recently announced that it has acquired around 300,000 customers. This milestone was reached right before the company’s first year anniversary.
What is so special about ZA Bank?
ZA Bank’s biggest draw is perhaps its high-interest rate of 1% on a total of three currencies that are supported: HKD, CNY & USD.
In January 2021, ZA Bank reportedly became the very first digital bank to receive an Insurance Agency License from the Hong Kong Insurance Authority and can offer completely online sign-ups that can be done in minutes with no medical checkup required.
Pros & Cons
- Savings in 3 currencies HKD, CNY & USD
- Ability to take out loans
- Customizable card
- Open banking
- High yield account
- No fees
- No minimum deposit
- No foreign currency exchange
- No joint accounts
- No autopay
- No cheques
How to open a Personal ZA Bank account?
To open a ZA bank account you have to meet the following requirements:
- Be 18 or older and have a valid residential address in Hong Kong
- Have a valid Hong Kong mobile phone number, and
- Hold a valid HKID card
- Have an invitation code
Here are the steps to open the account:
- Download the ZA Bank app
- Verify your phone number
- Input invite code and your email address
- Select your HKID, scan it, and finish the facial recognition
- Edit and confirm your HKID information
- Fill in your address, job type, purpose, and tax info
- Personalize your ZA card number
- Set your username and login password
- All done!
How to open a ZA Bank business account?
According to ZA Bank’s website, only companies that are established or incorporated in Hong Kong are eligible to apply for their business account.
Here’s what you’ll need to do to apply:
- Fill in the Business Account Opening Form
- Prepare the required documents from the Document Checklist for Business Account Opening
- Submit the completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org
The relationship Manager from the bank will arrange a meeting with you as soon as possible and collect all the necessary forms and required documents. After that, it takes them about a week to complete the process.
ZA Bank Accounts
- Easy to open an account online
- No annual fees, interests, or late fees
- 1% saving rate
- Up to 11% rebate upon purchase
- Deposit and withdraw money as you wish
- “Fixed-Rate” Loan Guaranteed APR of 1.99%
- Connect other bank accounts
- Instant FPS money transfers
- Personalized debit card
- Open account online
- Great for SMEs
- Time deposits are available in HKD, CNY, and USD
- Business loans with a revolving credit line
- Low Handling Fees
- Local Funds Transfer via FPS/CHATS
ZA Bank customers will be able to fund their savings accounts with HKD, USD, and CNY, and there are also plans to accept other currencies in the future.
ZA card is a debit card with no annual fees that you can customize by choosing the last 6 digits of the card number. You can also choose whether you want to have CVV, expiry date, or even your signature displayed on the card itself.
You can withdraw cash from over 3,000 local ATMs, that have the Visa logo displayed, for free. Security features include freezing and unfreezing the card from the append instant notifications among others.
The ZA Bank app is free to download from the Google Play or Apple Play stores. It can provide you with handy notifications when transfers have been made or e-statements have been issued. You will also be able to view your notifications at any time within the app.
Money transfer is oftentimes needlessly complicated. Thankfully, ZA Bank now offers instant transfer of funds via FPS around the clock. All you need is a mobile number, email, or QR code, and you can transfer HKD and CNY.
To transfer USD instantly to other local banks, you’ll have to go through “CHATS”. ZA also offers cross-border inward transfers in HKD, RMB, and USD to ZA Bank, and a “5-second recall” n case you’ve made a mistake.
How to register for Faster Payment System (FPS)?
- Open More > FPS & Transfer Settings > My FPS
- Select the FPS Proxy IDs (Mobile Number, Email Address, FPS ID, HKID Number) and set them as your default receiving bank
- Verify with SMS/Email one-time verification code or Face/Touch ID
ZA Bank fees
- No Monthly fee
- HKD 200 Time Deposit Early Withdrawal fee
- Default Interest Rate of 4%
- HKD 300 Late Payment Charge
- No Handling fee
- 2% Early Settlement fee
- 1.95% foreign transaction fee (1% charged by Visa, 0.95% by ZA Bank)
- An Overseas Cash Withdrawal Fee of HKD 20 per Transaction + 1.95% fee
With ZA Bank, you can get a personal loan of up to HKD 1,000,000. The whole process is done online via the app and ZA Bank commits to reviewing your application within 30 minutes. If they don’t do it in that timeframe, you’ll get HKD10 for every minute of overtime, and possibly up to HKD500.
Here are the exact steps to get a loan from ZA Bank:
- Download the app
- Fill in the loan application
- Receive preliminary approval result
- Provide more information and upload documents
- Loan confirmation and disbursement
You can calculate your repayments with ZA’s handy repayment calculator.
10 months after the bank’s official launch, ZA Bank started offering insurance policies that can be accessed and applied for through their banking app. They advertise it as insurance that everyone can afford as the premium is as low as HK$2 per year.
ZA Insure offers three products:
- ZA Life Protection – Up to HK$10 million life protection
- ZA Cancer Protection – Wide coverage, including early-stage cancer
- ZA Heart Attack & Stroke Protection – Coverage for heart attack and stroke
- ZA Accident Protection – Hospitalization, treatment, death…
While ZA Insure Select offers ZA Bill Insurance that covers utility bills in case of your hospitalization.
Every ZA Insure policy holder is also entitled to protections under ZA
Care’s ZA Relief Fund:
- HK$20,000 emergency aid upon unfortunate diagnosis with COVID-19
- Up to HK$8,000 free Hospital Cash Benefit and HK$200,000 Death Benefit
Protection due to side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination
Family medical history also does not affect the premium.
Is my money safe with ZA Bank?
ZA Bank Limited is a member of the Deposit Protection Scheme. The DPS protects the Hong Kong dollar, Renminbi, and other foreign currency deposits. Eligible deposits taken by this Bank are protected by the Scheme up to a limit of HK$500,000 per depositor.
Some deposits aren’t protected by the DPS:
- Time deposits with a maturity longer than 5 years,
- Structured deposits,
- Bearer instruments, and
- Offshore deposits
How is ZA Bank regulated?
ZA Bank Limited (ZA Bank) was licensed by HKMA on 27 March 2019. Up until that point, ZA Bank conducted the pilot trial under the HKMA’s Fintech Supervisory Sandbox.
Who owns ZA Bank?
In August of 2018, Zhong An Online, Sinolink, and CITIC Bank formed a joint venture Zhongan Virtual Finance Limited’s to apply for a virtual or digital banking license in Hong Kong. The founders invited former Hang Seng Bank CEO Ke Qinghui to serve as a director.
ZA Bank has therefore originated from ZhongAn Online, a Chinese online-only insurance company that was co-founded by some of China’s most notable business people and chairmen of Chinese multinational conglomerates:
- Alibaba’s Jack Ma,
- Tencent’s Pony Ma, and
- Ping An Insurance’s Mingzhe Ma
Ant Bank is the digital banking division of China-based Ant Group that is affiliated with the giant conglomerate Alibaba. Ant Bank account is easy to open; all you need is a phone and your HKID.
They are offering a high annual interest rate of 2% for the first HKD 20,000, easy “FPS”, transfers that can be done with your mobile number, email address, bank account number, or FPS ID.
Airstar is the second virtual bank to be launched successfully in Hong Kong. They offer a High-interest savings deposit with 3.6% interest for the first HKD 20,000 saved. They also charge no extra fee for early uplift of time deposit and have a 24/7 FPS instant transfer.
Airstar Bank is a joint venture by Xiaomi Corporation, global IoT leader, and AMTD Group, Asia’s leading comprehensive financial services conglomerate.
WeLab is not just another challenger bank from Hong Kong. It was made and founded in Hong Kong. The bank offers a savings account, time deposits, and a debit card. WeLab Bank accounts are completely free and don’t have any minimum balance requirements.
The company is one of the early challengers or neobanks and was founded in 2013. They say that they have 45+ million registered users and have facilitated HKD 60+ billion loans.
This Hong Kong digital bank also has around 800 employees.
The Bottom Line
ZA Bank is a good one-stop shop for all Hong Kong residents that want to take advantage of its good savings rate, easy online signup, no annual fees, up to 11% rebate, easy deposits, and fast money transfers.