- QR payments
- Up to 1% interest rate
- FPS transfers
- Virtual debit Mastercard
- Point of sale loan
92% of Hong Kong adults are aware of virtual banks, while 43% of non-virtual bank customers would consider using them. That is a great market to be in if you’re a virtual bank. Meaning, it’s great to be in the boots of livi – a challenger bank at the cusp of banking revolution in HK.
In this livi bank review, we’re taking a look at how livi bank compares to other banks and what you can expect from them. But first, here’s our short verdict:
People looking for a savings account that offers cash back rewards and virtual Mastercard with POS loans should look no further than livi bank. Although there are still some issues with account verifications, we’re ready to look past it as livi is a solid offering.
About livi bank
Livi bank is one of eight virtual banks present in the sprawling Hong Kong market. The fintech startup is backed by BOC Hong Kong (Holdings), Jingdong Digits Technology, and the Jardine Matheson Group.
Why is livi bank so special?
For a year-old fintech, livi has managed to attract more than 80,000 customers and over HKD900 million in deposits. Most of its customers are between 25 and 40 years old and their oldest one is 91!
Pros and cons
- QR payments
- Instant transfers
- Up to HK$500,000 deposit protection
- Can be difficult to verify account
- No physical card
- No ATM withdrawals
- Foreign transaction fee
- No monthly fee
- No minimum deposit
- No transaction fees
- 1.9% foreign currency transactions fee
Who can open a livi bank account?
You can open a livi bank account if:
- You’re 18 or above
- You have a Smart Hong Kong Identity Card
- You’re a Hong Kong resident
- Have a valid Hong Kong address
- You have a Hong Kong mobile number
How to open a livi bank account?
To open a livi bank account, download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store. The process of opening a bank account is easy, and you’ll need to provide some usual information such as your full name, your HK address, and other personal details, as well as your email address and your phone number.
As many app users have learned, the livi app can be buggy at recognizing the HKID, and it might take more than a few tries to succeed. Unfortunately, people do tend to give up at this step and go to one of the competitors. Also, the account verification can take up to two days which is a bit slow.
Opening a livi bank account automatically grants you a single account that nets you interest rate without the need to sign up for a dedicated savings account. It’s something that we like to see.
The interest rates are:
- First HKD50,000 or below: 1.00% p.a.
- Above HKD50,000 to HKD500,000: 0.50% p.a.
- HKD500,000+: 0.01% p.a.
The rates aren’t mind-blowing like some other competitors’ but they’re still fair. The interest is calculated on a monthly basis and credited once a month, both of which we don’t like.
Apart from getting interest rates on your deposit, the livi bank account does have some other great features. Let’s see what they are.
Livi’s PayLater is a point of sale installment loan that allows you to spread your purchases with up to HKD50,000 revolving credit. You get approved a loan instantly and get to repay your purchase in 3 to 36 months.
There are some fees involved in this, of course. The monthly handling fee can be as low as 0.20% but it’s dependent on your loan amount, credit rating and other factors considered by livi.
During the promotional period, handling fees are waived for the first 3 months and there’s no early settlement fee that is usually 3% of the repaid principal.
The feature is available for transactions between HKD100 and the approved livi PayLater credit limit and is only available through the virtual Mastercard debit card.
Transactions made with the card are automatically split into installments over the repayment period chosen by the customer, with no extra applications required. Customers can then easily manage their installment spending within the livi app.
Livi offers easy transfers to and from your livi account. In fact, the following transfer services are offered:
- Instant HKD transfers via FPS
- Small-value Transfers
- Scheduled transfers
- Quick Save transfers from your other bank account
FPS transfers are fast and free. Small-value transfers are transfers that don’t reach your imposed daily limit of 10,000 HKD and can be done without having to use two-factor authentication.
With Quick Save transfers, you’re sending money from your linked bank account to your liviSave account.
FPS transfers will be processed and received by the recipient immediately and scheduled transfers are processed between 9 am – 12 pm. Transfers are only available in HKD and the maximum daily transfer limit is 500,000 HKD, but you can set your own limit.
To register for FPS, go to livi app and:
- Tap “Profile Settings” on the Overview screen
- Select “Payment & Transfer”
- Select “Transfer” then tap “FPS”
- Follow the instructions to register for FPS using your mobile number, email address or HKID
liviSave customers can apply for a virtual livi Mastercard debit card that can be connected to both Apple Pay and Google Pay. When you pay with livi Mastercard, it will directly debit from your liviSave account, there’s no credit involved as it’s not a credit card.
If you want a debit and a credit card, Mox Bank is offering a unique all-in-one debit/credit card.
livi has no fees for using their virtual Mastercard apart from the 1.9% foreign transaction fee which is pretty standard and frequent travelers are used to it, although there are plenty of cards out there with no foreign transaction fees.
By using your livi card, you’ll be also getting cash back on all your purchases. Cash back is comprised of 1% cash back on all purchases and an additional 7% for eligible online purchases will be deposited within the next calendar month.
8% cash back can only get you up to HKD300 per month and at a 1% rate, you can net up to HKD500 per month.
If you haven’t applied, or you don’t want to, for the livi Mastercard, you can still pay with your phone at any Hong Kong merchants accepting UnionPay QR Payments. Same as with a debit card, you can view your records and manage your spending in the livi app.
The good news is that over 50,000+ merchants across Hong Kong accept QR payments.
How is livi bank regulated?
Livi is one of eight virtual banks in Hong Kong that was granted a banking license by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in 2019 to conduct virtual banking business in Hong Kong.
Is my money safe with livi?
As part of the HK Deposit Protection Scheme, all your deposits of up to 500,000 HKD are protected, and that includes both principal and interest.
In-app encryption, biometric authentication, and instant payment notifications also keep your money safe.
Who owns livi bank?
BOCHK (Holdings), JD Digits (through its subsidiary JD New Orbit Technology Limited), and Jardines (through its subsidiary JSH Virtual Ventures Holdings Limited) have a total joint initial investment of HK$2.5 billion and hold shares of 44%, 36%, and 20% respectively.
Customer reviews are generally favorable, but there’s no shortage of users that have problems at the first step – applying for the account. The issues seem to be with the new HKIDs that the app has a hard time of recognizing, making it hard to scan and verify.
Other people mention that the QR code used for paying in shops doesn’t always work, leading to embarrassing situations. Both issues seem like something livi could fix quickly if they put in more effort.
If you’re having the same issues, try contacting livi customer support at (852) 2929 2998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 between Xiaomi Corporation, a global IoT leader, and AMTD Group, Asia’s leading comprehensive financial services conglomerate.
As the digital banking scene in HK heats up, Mox bank is one of its newest and best contenders, offering seamless credit and debit card experience with easy to use app and small fees.
You can get in touch with livi bank using the following methods:
- Live Chat on the livi app (for registered customers only)
- Feedback page on the livi app (for registered customers only)
- Email at email@example.com
- Call at (852) 2929 2998
- Write to: liviCare at 28/F, Oxford House, Taikoo Place, 979 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
The bottom line
livi is a modern virtual bank that is targeting young people of Hong Kong that want that extra push that the PayLater feature gives them without the need for a credit card.