Over the past decades, successive initiatives in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to combat money laundering have forced banks into the front line in fighting against illicit money flows. This has led to more stringent account opening procedures for banks and other financial institutions. Banks have required additional information and documentation when handling account opening for clients, such as business plans, transaction records, details of ultimate beneficiaries, etc. and they would often require the bank account holders to appear in person. Mr Wen said that Bank of Asia would provide solutions to the bank account opening difficulties for BVI and offshore companies: customers may open bank accounts in person in the BVI or via smartphone or computer with camera and video functionality. Bank of Asia requires a selfie and a short video stating the bank account holder’s full name and nationality. Offshore companies will need to provide corporate documents (e.g. certificate of incorporation, registers, board resolutions, certificate of good standing, etc.).

Bank of Asia provides a range of banking services to the BVI and other offshore companies as well as trusts and individuals from all over the world. It is domiciled in the BVI, but allows customers to access its digital platform all over the world with a smart device or computer. Similarly, transactions can be done online round the clock.

At the core of Bank of Asia are its robust know your client (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regimes, leveraging cutting edge technology such as facial scans and big data, and working with strong and established partners to ensure that only legitimate customers are on-boarded and only legitimate transactions are handled. Its technology and use of big data enable accounts to be opened within days of satisfactory KYC/AML clearance, in contrast to the weeks or even months required by traditional banks.

Furthermore, Bank of Asia currently offers deposit and remittance services, while debit cards and lending services will become available in 2019. Its affiliate company BOA Financial Group can provide more comprehensive wealth management, investment advisory and investment banking advisory services to clients.

At this early stage, the uptake of services offered by Bank of Asia is yet to be assessed, but industry practitioners generally welcome these long-awaited solutions to some of the account opening issues in Asia.

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