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FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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Hong Kong banks to scrap minimum balance fees

HSBC, BEA, StanChart, and Hang Seng did the move in anticipation of stiffer competition from virtual lenders.

Amidst the rise of virtual banks, three major Hong Kong banks revealed that they will waive minimum balance fees for their customers in a move to further boost financial inclusion.

Starting August 1, HSBC, Bank of East Asia (BEA) and Hang Seng Bank will remove minimum balance fees for certain accounts.

HSBC was the first to announce that it will enable free basic banking services for their customers with passbooks, statement accounts, personal and advance integrated accounts, as well as those with super ease accounts. The move will also kill monthly or annual service fees and miscellaneous charges such as counter transaction fees for some personal savings account.

Currently, bank users of HSBC’s personal integrated account need to pay a monthly fee of $60 once the average total balance reaches $5,000 over a period of three months. Meanwhile, those with advanced integrated accounts pay $120 when a three-month average balance is less than $200,000.

Standard Chartered Bank also decided to remove minimum balance maintenance fees for personal banking clients and counter transaction service fees for Click A count clients. It added that a low balance maintenance fee for non-packaged clients' deposit accounts will be implemented.

For its part, Hang Seng Bank will eliminate the application of below balance monthly service fees on their preferred banking, integrated account and personal HKD savings accounts.

“The majority of our personal banking customers will benefit from removal of the relevant fees. As we see a continuing change in customer banking behaviour, we will continue to enhance our services to meet their needs and preferences,” said Margaret Kwan, executive director and head of retail banking and wealth management at Hang Seng Bank.

The Bank of East Asia said that it will waive its monthly service fees for i-Account and general personal banking account holders as part of its efforts to promote financial inclusion. Meanwhile, it noted that the minimum average daily relationship balance requirements and monthly service
fees for SupremeGold Accounts and Supreme Accounts will remain unchanged.

“SupremeGold and Supreme customers will continue to enjoy a wide range of personalized services and privileges. In addition, SupremeGold customers are served by dedicated relationship managers,” it explained.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has so far already granted eight virtual licenses in total. 

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