Livi VB’s New Trump Card is a CEO With Experience in China’s First Virtual Bank

by May 31, 2019

Due to the worryingly slow development of digital banking in Hong Kong, regulator Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) granted virtual banking license it to a total of 8 virtual banks.  Since then, these companies have been locked in an intense battle for talent as they all ramp up for launch within 2019.

The mass influx of virtual banks gearing up their launches is straining the small pool of local technical talent in Hong Kong’s budding financial ecosystem. We think these virtual banks should look outside of the island to exchange talent with other members of the Greater Bay Area, already an interconnected network of different technical advantages.

Michael Wang has just been appointed to head Livi, a virtual bank primarily backed by the Bank of China (Hong Kong) said South China Morning Post. Micheal previously led the inter-bank and corporate bank business for Tencent-backed WeBank, before moving to Bank of China (Hong Kong) in 2017 to lead the fintech promotion and development team.

Michael Wang is something of a big name in Hong Kong’s fintech, as seen in his participation in major projects under Bank of China, like the bank’s equity reform before listing, IT blueprint development and cooperation with international banks.

With that, Livi’s First Move will be Loans

According to a press release, Livi aims to offer a seamless and user friendly solution incorporating AI, blockchain, big data and smart risk modelling. The name of the game for Livi is flexibility, and they think they can do to complement the everyday lives of their consumers to cover food, clothing, accommodations, transport, shopping, leisure, and even the operations of SMEs.

During a media briefing, Micheal announced that Livi will be providing simple saving and loan products to start with, before expanding into investment products at a later stage, as reported by SCMP.

Apparently, their focus will be on SMEs, and individuals seeking quick access to cash loans.

Livi under Micheal’s leadership seems to want to dabble in the micro-loan market in Hong Kong, specifically bringing up young customers who would not like to que at a bank for hours only to get rejected for only wanting a few thousand dollars as a loan, which is too small for large banks.

Microfinancing, particularly for SMEs has been on the HKMA’s eye since 2012, which was likely why Livi ended up securing their coveted virtual banking license. Unlike China, microlending hasn’t grown into a fully-fledged disruptive industry in Hong Kong yet.

JD Digits, part-owner of Livi, is probably a key instrument in this movement, as they were one of the drivers for the popularity of micro loans among millennials in Mainland China back when they were JD Finance.

Michael also said that Livi will be recruiting about 100 staff by the time Livi opens sometime in the last quarter of the year.

Featured image via Livi