ZA Bank has initiated virtual banking pilot in Hong Kong, becoming the first lender to introduce the services in the region.

The pilot will include 2,000 users and will help the lender to procure feedback before the general roll-out.

The service enables the applicants to open account in minutes with a Hong Kong identity card.

According to South China Morning Post, ZA Bank’s virtual banking services will include multicurrency savings account, remote account opening and local transfers, among others. The customers can also receive e-statements of their transactions.

The lender will also offer fixed term deposits with an interest rate of 1.4% on one-month time deposit. The interest rate rises to 2% for three, six and 12-month time deposits.

In March this year, ZA Bank secured virtual banking licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The company, co-owned by ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance and Sinolink Group, was among the first batch of companies to win regulatory nod to operate a virtual bank in Hong Kong.

Unlike conventional lenders, virtual banks do not have a brick-and-mortar presence and provide banking services online.

HKMA planned to introduce such virtual banks in the sector to improve financial inclusion. The move is also expected to drive innovation and competition in the banking sector.

In April, the regulator awarded virtual banking licence to WeLab Digital, followed by another four licences in May.