Briefing on the work of Hong Kong Monetary Authority
Provision of banking services
Mr CHAN Chun-ying remarked that banks had been introducing more self-services and providing services through electronic means due to rising operating costs, and increasing number of financial transactions were not required to be conducted at physical bank branches. He considered that it would be more effective to introduce measures such as provision of ATMs to help the needy in remote areas and public housing estates in accessing banking services. In this connection, he enquired whether HKMA would explore the feasibility of allowing cash withdrawal when consumers were not purchasing goods using EPS EasyCash and other SVFs.
CE/HKMA explained that with the growing popularity of new channels of banking services like ATMs and internet, it was natural that the demand for physical bank branches would decrease. HKMA had reminded banks to promote financial inclusion while operating on commercial principles. Banks should take into account the needs and suggestions of the community in their plans for branch networks. HKMA had been in discussion with banks on possible ways to improve the coverage of physical bank branches in some remote areas. If physical branches could not be provided in some areas, HKMA had encouraged banks to utilize new technologies and operation modes (like mobile branches and video teller machines) to supplement the existing branch network in order to provide basic banking services to the public in those areas.
The linked exchange rate system
Mr CHAN Chun-ying enquired if the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited (“HKMC”) would consider extending the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme before expiry of the Scheme in February 2017. He further noted that the total loan amount approved by the Microfinance Scheme was small and the success rate of applications was also on the low side. CE/HKMA responded that whether the special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme would be extended was to be determined by the Financial Secretary.
Proposed creation of a non-civil service Executive Director position in the Financial Services Development Council Secretariat of the Financial Services Branch of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau
Justifications for creating the proposed post
Mr CHAN Chun-ying supported the staffing proposal. Noting that the Administration planned to fill the proposed post in the third quarter of 2017 but the contract of the non-civil service Senior Advisor would complete in August 2017, Mr CHAN asked if the Administration could expedite the recruitment process to enable a longer handover period between the post holders.
USFST explained that it would take time to complete the recruitment process. He said that after consulting the Panel, the Administration would submit the proposal to the Establishment Subcommittee for endorsement and – 22 – Action then the Finance Committee for approval. Thereafter, an open recruitment exercise would be conducted to trawl the most suitable candidate with the right calibre and experience. Subject to the availability of a suitable candidate to fill the post and the period required by the candidate to serve notice for resigning from the present job, it would be practical to expect that the proposed post would be filled in the third quarter of 2017.
Difficulties encountered by certain enterprises in opening bank accounts
Supporting measures to SMEs
Mr CHAN Chun-ying remarked that enhanced cooperation and communication between the banking industry and enterprise customers would certainly improve the situation. He called on HKMA to make good use of various business facilitating platforms, such as InvestHK, to reach out to the SME community to gauge their views and address their concerns. He also suggested that HKMA should also explore ways to facilitate a greater use of KYC Utilities in the banking sector for handling SMEs’ account opening applications.
ED(BC)/HKMA responded that HKMA had adopted a multi-pronged approach to address the matter. For instance, HKMA in collaboration with HKAB had been exploring the use of innovation and technology to help simplify the collection and submission of information/documents for account opening applications and the work would continue. HKAB was also exploring opportunities for the banking industry to further cooperate with and leverage on the government platform, Support and Consultation Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises, to reach out to the SME community and provide SMEs with up-to-date information about banking services. HKMA had also been working with InvestHK and provided it with a list of banks which were interested in reaching out to overseas companies. The list could be shared with interested foreign SMEs who wished to seek assistance in opening bank accounts in Hong Kong.