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Monday, 30 September, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
HSBC to go online in China
HSBC logo
HSBC hopes to be online in China by the end of the year
Banking group HSBC has become one of just two foreign banks to be granted an internet banking licence in China.

The UK and Hong Kong-based company will provide online banking services on the Chinese mainland by the end of the year.

The agreement is a further step by HSBC to move into the fast-growing Chinese market to offset slowing growth in Hong Kong.

Eddie Wang, head of HSBC's China operations, said the development marked "a new chapter for HSBC's personal financial services in mainland China".

Chinese savings

Overseas banks have been keen to gain access to Chinese banking customers, which have an estimated $1trillion ( 640bn) in savings.

The buoyant market is a sharp contrast to the Hong Kong economy which is struggling to pull itself out of recession.

Last month, the family-controlled Bank of East Asia became the first foreign bank to obtain an internet licence in China.

HSBC and its unit the Hang Seng Bank have now been granted online licences.

Hang Seng Bank is the second largest bank in Hong Kong and 62% owned by HSBC.

Paving the way

Restrictions to foreign banks' operations in China are being gradually relaxed after the country joined the World Trade Organisation last December.

HSBC made inroads into the market earlier this year, when it was granted a licence to offer foreign currency exchanges in Shanghai and Beijing.

In December 2001, HSBC became the first foreign commercial bank to take a stake in a mainland Chinese bank, when it bought 11% of the Bank of Shanghai.

See also:

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