Showing our support in Hong Kong
HSBC is taking a range of measures to support communities, personal customers and businesses as Hong Kong tackles the challenges of COVID-19.
Disruption caused by the pandemic has meant that people are living more of their daily life online – and that includes banking.
At HSBC in Hong Kong, the proportion of retail banking transactions conducted through digital channels reached a record high of 94 per cent in March. And there were 1.12 million customers using its mobile banking app, almost a 40 per cent rise compared with the same month last year.
This switch is underpinned by the bank’s investment in its digital capabilities in recent years, making it easier for customers to manage their finances from home.
In addition to boosting its digital services, the bank has also taken targeted steps to help personal customers deal with the financial strain caused by COVID-19. These include:
- Deferred principal repayment on residential mortgages
- Insurance protection for those affected by COVID-19
- Relief loans aimed at easing short-term cash-flow pressures
HSBC’s support for households in Hong Kong goes beyond the financial, too. With people spending more time online, the bank has been highlighting the risks of cybercrime and the importance of staying safe.
A poll of 1,000 Hong Kong residents carried out by the bank found that more than half had encountered online scams, with a third of these suffering financial loss averaging around HKD2,800 (about USD360) as a result. And fewer than one in ten were classed as ‘cyber smart’ – that is, scoring more than 80 out of a possible 100 for their cyber security knowledge, attitude and behaviour.
The survey comes amid warnings that cybercriminals are seeking to exploit the pandemic, often tailoring their scams to reference COVID-19.
Greg Hingston, Regional Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Asia Pacific, and Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Hong Kong, HSBC, said: “HSBC is committed to promoting financial education, and cyber security is a priority topic. We hope this survey will underline the need for retail customers to be careful before they click.”
Many businesses around the world are facing uncertainty during the pandemic, and those in Hong Kong are no exception.
As part of its efforts to support its business customers, HSBC has put in place measures that provide immediate liquidity relief of more than HKD30 billion (USD4 billion) for businesses of all sizes and across a wide range of sectors. These include:
- Support for trade finance customers, offering an overdraft facility of up to HKD10 million (USD1.3 million) to cover daily operational costs such as payroll
- Extension of import trade loan payment period for 30 days
- Deferred principal repayments on loans for taxi and public light bus operators and property-secured commercial loans
HSBC has also put in place a series of arrangements to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) apply for the 100 per cent government-guaranteed loan scheme and speed up the process.
These include setting up a taskforce of 100 dedicated operational staff and arranging virtual tutorials for interested applicants. Helped by support from hundreds of frontline staff, they ensured thousands of applications were already in progress during the first week of launch.
Measures such as these are complemented by non-financial support. In March, for example, HSBC brought forward the launch of a digital platform to help businesses in Hong Kong share knowledge and stay connected in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The VisionGo portal allows firms to find and share hundreds of business articles and exchange ideas through online events and workshops.
Terence Chiu, Head of Commercial Banking, Hong Kong, HSBC, said: “The SME community is key to Hong Kong’s economy, and HSBC understands they need more than just financial support.
“We decided to unveil this digital platform in beta for companies to virtually connect and exchange practical ideas – at a time when we must come together to support each other.”
VisionGo is open to all SMEs, start-ups and budding entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, regardless of whether they are customers of the bank.
Relief for the hardest hit
While information for customers is vital, HSBC also recognises that parts of the Hong Kong community need help of a different kind.
This is why the bank has announced a donation of more than HKD60 million (USD7.7 million) to support some of the people most affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
The contribution will go towards four local projects, providing immediate and longer-term relief to 600,000 people, including those in low-income families and senior citizens.
Support ranges from delivering food and hygiene supplies to enabling longer-term recovery and nurturing future skills within disadvantaged communities.
The HKD60 million contribution comes via the Hongkong Bank Foundation, a charitable trust set up by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in 1981.
It is in addition to HSBC’s worldwide USD25 million COVID-19 donation fund, which is focused on providing immediate medical relief, access to food, and care for the most vulnerable people.
Diana Cesar, Chief Executive, Hong Kong, HSBC, said: “HSBC has always been there for our customers and the community during the most challenging times, and we are confronting the present economic situation from a position of strength. If we stand together, I am sure we will come out stronger and more successful.”