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Wealth Management Connect: 20 banks seek approval for over 100 investment funds, says HKMA

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Hong Kong banks are gearing up to launch products to tap mainland investors through the Wealth Management Connect. Photo: Reuters

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said it has received 20 applications from banks interested in selling more than 100 different types of investment funds to mainland investors through the US$46.5 billion Wealth Management Connect scheme, taking them a step closer to the products’ launch.

The Wealth Management Connect links up Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong – known collectively as the Greater Bay Area (GBA) – and represents regulators’ efforts to promote capital flow across the region with 70 million inhabitants and a gross domestic product of US$1.7 trillion in 2020.

Banks interested in taking part in the scheme, which is likely to generate US$700 million a year in fee-based income for financial institutions, have to show the HKMA the readiness of their systems, products and manpower. An initial target of 300 billion yuan (US$46.5 billion), half going in each direction, has been set by authorities on both sides of the border. Each mainland investor can invest up to 1 million yuan worth of investment products offered by Hong Kong banks.

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© Provided by South China Morning Post Arthur Yuen Kwok-hang, deputy chief executive of HKMA, says Hong Kong banks are eager to take part in the Wealth Management Connect. Ohoto: Jonathan Wong

“Banks are responding very quickly to our questions,” said Arthur Yuen Kwok-hang, deputy chief executive of HKMA. “We are on target to launch the connect scheme in terms of business flow around October and November.”

Major players such as HSBC, Citi, Standard Chartered and Bank of China (Hong Kong) have all said they will participate.

Balanced funds, money market funds, equity and bond funds, which use different strategies, are among the more than 100 types of investment funds awaiting the HKMA’s approval.

Yuen said over “200 types of bonds” were included in these applications, including both government and corporate bonds, but stopped short of giving further details.

The programme was first proposed a year ago, after having conducted successful experiments with allowing cross-border funds to invest in equities and bonds between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen financial markets since 2014. Unlike the nationwide Stock Connect and Bond Connect programmes, the Wealth Management Connect is limited geographically to the Greater Bay Area.

© Provided by South China Morning Post The People’s Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority are jointly testing the cross-border use of the e-yuan. Photo: Reuters

Separately, the HKMA said that it has been working closely with the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) in testing the cross-border use of China’s sovereign digital currency, known as the e-yuan.

Also on Tuesday, the HKMA co-published a report with the PBOC, the Bank of Thailand and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates on the trials of their respective digital currencies.

In 2019, the HKMA and the Bank of Thailand launched a bilateral experiment called Project Inthanon-LionRock, successfully completing the initial phase of their sovereign digital currencies project in January last year. This project was later expanded to include the PBOC and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

Central bank digital currencies show a substantial improvement in cross-border transfer speed from days to seconds, the report said, noting that costs can be cut by half by reducing the layers of intermediary banks that are involved in the traditional correspondent banking model.

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