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limited number of virtual banks to join a heavily saturated market and leverage their technological expertise to
take on additional customers with lower incremental costs it was hoped this would broaden client coverage in traditionally lower-profit segments.
Accordingly, as part of the licensing guidelines, the HKMA has requirements that improve accessibility. For example, in the HKMA’s Revised Guidelines on the Authorization of Virtual Banks, there is an explicit requirement that they do not impose any minimum account balance requirement or low-balance fees on their customers. But otherwise, the HKMA’s approach to overseeing the activities of virtual banks is the same as for traditional banks. Virtual banks are not subject to lower regulation, supervision,
or levels of capital requirements. Virtual banks are also required to comply with fair dealing rules – namely, to abide by existing laws and regulations, including the Treat Customers Fairly Charter and the Code of Banking Practice. Yet, the main drivers of financial exclusion in Hong Kong are not limited to balance requirements, fair dealing practices and account keeping fees. Indeed, for the reasons listed below, virtual banks may not automatically improve greater financial inclusion unless proper regulatory focus and mitigation is applied by the regulator and operators of virtual banks.
The five exclusionary forces
The first exclusionary force is technology, especially as access to critical financial services will become dependent on having access, and being able to use the technologies necessary to interact with virtual banks. This was ranked high on the list of concerns in the feedback received from interviewees. The availability, accessibility and affordability of both hardware and software may be assumed as a given, but it should not be. Many people do not have unlimited access to the internet or the latest smartphones. This is further compounded by continual updating of banking mobile apps, which can result in making older versions
of smartphones incompatible with the latest functions. When this happens, simply to keep up, bank customers
can find themselves compelled to buy a new phone and data plans. This highlights the potential of over-reliance
on smartphones as the access point for customers, which
38 introduces new barriers (and concentrates risks) associated with the availability and stability of the underlying infrastructure. Namely, the telephone and data networks as well as the mobile operating systems, all of which are beyond the regulatory reach of the HKMA.
因此,金管局在發牌上要求虛擬銀行降低客戶 獲得銀行服務的障礙。例如金管局《虛擬銀行的 認可》指引修訂本明確規定,虛擬銀行不可設立 最低戶口結餘要求或徵收低戶口結餘收費。除 此以外,金管局監管虛擬銀行業務的方式,與監 管傳統銀行業務無異;對虛擬銀行的規管、監管 及最低資本要求,並不低於傳統銀行。虛擬銀行 也須遵守公平交易的規則,亦即遵守現行的法 規,包括《公平待客約章》及《銀行營運守則》。然 而,香港市民被銀行服務排拒在外的主因,並不 限於最低戶口結餘要求、公平交易做法及戶口 結 餘 收 費 。事 實 上 ,由 於 下 述 原 因 ,虛 擬 銀 行 並 不一定能促進普及金融,除非監管機構校正監 管重點,而虛擬銀行營辦者又妥善緩減風險。
第一項排拒因素是科技,客戶必需要連接網上 途徑以及懂得使用所需科技,才可與虛擬銀行 互動並取得關鍵金融服務。在受訪者的回應中, 這是最受關注的一項。一般人認為人人都具備、 可取得或負擔得起所需的軟硬件,但其實不然。 許多人不可以無限上網,又或沒有最新型號的 智能電話。加上銀行流動應用程式不斷更新,較 舊版本的智能電話可能與最新的功能不相容; 為了繼續使用銀行服務,客戶或需要不斷購買 新型號智能電話,參加新的數據計劃。這突顯了 過度倚賴智能電話作為客戶取得銀行服務的途 徑的問題,是否具備所需基礎設施、以及基礎設 施 的 穩 定 性 ,構 成 了 新 障 礙 ,帶 來 集 中 風 險 。值 得關注的一點是:電話和數據網絡,以及流動電 話操作系統等基礎設施,都在金管局的監管範 圍以外。
 ISSUE 119 • 2021
“Without access to banking and payment facilities, e-commerce opportunities for the un-banked and under-banked are impossible to access.

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