Banking services can be provided in many different forms. WeLab, an outfit in Hong Kong, is looking to launch a fully virtual bank. To do so, the company recently closed a $156 million funding round.
(Virtual) Banking in Hong Kong
Most people stick to the concept of dealing with traditional banks and financial institutions. Those companies have built up a strong reputation, despite meeting a fair few hurdles along the way. The majority of people who utilize banking services do so through financial institutions which have been around for decades.
Slowly but surely, more competition has begun to emerge globally. In the UK and a few other European countries, the rise of challenger banks has become apparent. Those banks still provide somewhat traditional services, but their core business model is completely different from the likes of Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, or others.
In Hong Kong, things are taken one step further. The country has recently begun issuing virtual banking licenses. This will allow for some innovative financial solutions, services, and products to be offered in the future. WeLab is one of the companies successfully obtaining its virtual banking license in recent months.
A new WeLab Funding Round
Rolling out a virtual bank still requires plenty of funding to start moving forward. For WeLab, the recent Series C financing will be of great assistance. The financial services provider has raised another $156 million with the help of Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and China Construction Bank, among others.
WeLab was initially founded in 2013. Their business spans the B2B and B2C segment, both in Hong Kong as well as Mainland China and Indonesia. The company has received financial support from some financial heavyweights ever since. Previous investors include Credit Suisse, ING, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.
WeLab founder and group CEO Simon Loong adds:
“With technological advancement, fintech has gradually been integrated into our daily lives over the last decade, transforming the traditional world of banking as we know it. 2020 marks the inflection point where the calls for supervision and governance are necessary, starting with regulated digital banks.”
This new virtual banking license will help WeLab enter the Hong Kong retail banking market. To bring innovation to the space, the company will utilize disruptive technologies. The focus lies with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data. All of these technologies pave the way for an interactive and intelligent banking system.