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How to get a Money Lender License in Hong Kong?

Varun Hariharan

| Updated: Sep 29, 2020 | Category: Money lender in Hong kong

Money Lender License

The Money lender license business in Hong Kong has started even before the introduction of the Hong Kong Money Lender’s ordinance (CAP 163) in 1980. A typical money lender’s business carries out activities on the financing of loans, providing mortgages and other allied activities related to finance.

Money lender license business in Hong Kong is regulated by the Licensing Authority of the Hong Kong Police. Apart from this, many authorities regulate the money lender license in Hong Kong.  This article is going to speak about securing a money lender license in Hong Kong.

Why start a Money lender Business in Hong Kong?

Every business has its advantages and disadvantages. However, there are many advantages to starting the money lender’s business in Hong Kong.

The following are the advantages of starting the money lender’s business in Hong Kong:

  • Financial Centre- Foreign investors consider Hong Kong as one of the world’s largest financial centre. Notably, starting any form of business is simple in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR).  Many finance businesses are regulated in Hong Kong. Hence more investors want to start businesses in Hong Kong. Ease of doing business is one of the main factors for starting a money lender’s business in Hong Kong.
  • Regulated Market-Hong Kong thrives of having one of the enormous legal regimes in the world. The common law system in Hong Kong helps investors establish their business in a short period of time. Apart from this, there are different advisors and business consultants in Hong Kong to help your business develop its priorities and primary objectives. Due to regulation, starting a money lending business is simple.
  • Global Recognition- Setting up a business in Hong Kong SAR will not only provide ease of carrying out business but will also offer reputation and international recognition for your business. Clients will find it easy to trust the services provided by your business by establishing a presence in Hong Kong. Recognition is one of the main factors which will help your business thrive.
  • Innovation- Apart from being one of the largest financial centres in the world, the government of Hong Kong hugely supports innovation in the form of business and entrepreneurship. The Government of Hong Kong and independent licensing authorities provide different forms of benefits and schemes which will help your money lender license business thrive. The government supports different technologies, such as the use of Artificial Intelligence and Data analytics in business development. Hence in this business environment, it is easier to start the money lender license business.
  • Firm Intellectual Property and Legal Protection- Hong Kong SAR follows’ the common law system for legal compliance and precedence. Protection of respective Intellectual Property rights is easier due to the robust legal system. Different processes and procedures followed in courts also make it easier for securing your assets of the business.

While there are many advantages of starting a money lender license business in Hong Kong, there are also many disadvantages to setting up a money lender license business in Hong Kong.

The following are the disadvantages of setting up a money lender’s business in Hong Kong:

  • Competition- In this current day and age, competition is one of the significant challenges to a money lender’s business. Due to thriving competition, businesses are not able to satisfy their goals and objects. To stay ahead in this competition, a money lender’s business needs to shift their strategies. By shifting their strategies, a money lender license business can focus and prioritise their activities more on customer-centricity. Apart from this, the moneylender can focus on improving the systems of digital frameworks used in the organisation.
  • Cultural Barriers- Another added disadvantage are the cultural barriers present in Hong Kong SAR. Cultural and obstacles to language would be prominent in starting a Money Lender business in Hong Kong. The main languages spoken in Hong Kong are English, Mandarin and Chinese. Primarily, English is spoken, which will not be an issue when starting this form of business. When a business has clients who only know Mandarin and Chinese, it becomes an issue. To avoid, such issues it is crucial for the money lender’s license business to have employees who are multilingual and multicultural.

Though there are a lot of advantages of starting a money lender license business, there are few challenges which may be an issue to an individual starting this form of business.

What is a Money Lender License required for?

A money lender is an entity or a business whose primary activities are carrying out the handling of finances, provision of a different form of loans and advances.

Thus the meaning and definition of money lender are provided under the Money Lender License (Ordinance) (CAP 163). Section 2 of the ordinance provides the general meaning of the Money Lender under this ordinance.

Apart from the above, the following activities would come under the purview of the definition of the money lender license:

  • Provision of different forms of the consumer as well as commercial loans.
  • Loans for house property and commercial mortgages.
  • Hire Purchase activities and carrying out any kind of leasing activities on vehicles and automobiles.
  • Loans to SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises).
  • Providing activities which involve the use of Credit Card and other card services.
  • Syndication of different types of loans.

Which Businesses or Entities cannot be termed as a Money Lender for Money Lender License?

The Money lender business is only for the above entities which carry out activities such as providing loans and advances to individuals as well as commercial entities. Under section 2 of the Money lender’s ordinance (Cap 163) schedule I include the entities which cannot carry out the activities which are performed by money lenders.

 The following businesses cannot consider themselves as Money Lenders:

  1. Any banking or financial institution that is carrying out activities related to the banking business.  This would be considered under the Banking Ordinance Cap 155.
  2. Any form of business that carries out cooperative activities. Such businesses or entities that carry out co-operative activities have been defined under the Co-operative Society Ordinance Cap 33.
  3. Any institution or entity that forms part of a credit union which carries out the activities under the Credit Union Ordinance.
  4. Any form of Insurance Marketing Agency or Insurance Firm which is defined under the respective Insurance Ordinance Cap 41. This will include businesses that are promoting insurance-based activities.
  5. Any member institution of the Berne Union cannot carry out activities under the Money Lender’s License.

Hence the above institutions cannot carry out the activities or be termed as Money Lenders under this ordinance.

Who regulates the activities of Money lender’s License in Hong Kong?

The Companies Registry of Hong Kong regulates all the activities which are carried out by a Money Lender in Hong Kong. The main law that regulates money lenders is the Money Lenders Ordinance (Cap 163). This ordinance was brought out in 1980 for regulating the activities of money lender’s in Hong Kong.

The Licensing Court is an independent, autonomous body that grants applications for money lender in Hong Kong. They have the power to either accept a potential application for a money lender or reject the application.

What are the powers and functions of the Licensing Court?

The Licensing Court is the main authority for accepting and rejecting applications for a money lender’s license in Hong Kong.

 The licensing court can carry out the following functions:

  • The licensing court is the main authority which can accept applications for the issue of money lender license in Hong Kong.
  • They have the authority to either accept applications or reject applications.
  • There are specific conditions that have to be adhered by Money lenders in Hong Kong. If a moneylender does not adhere to any of the 13 conditions, then the application or license can be revoked or cancelled.
  • The licensing court has the authority to either accept or reject a Money lender License.
  • Apart from this, the licensing court has the authority to monitor the status of a money lending business. If there are any issues related to transparency and governance, then the same has to be taken up by the licensing court.
  • The licensing court also has the authority to renew applications for the money lender license.

What are the requirements for starting money Lender Business in Hong Kong?

For commencing the business of a money lender in Hong Kong, the following requirements have to be satisfied by the applicant:

  • Fit and Proper Person
  • No Disqualifications
  • Proper Firm Name
  • Premises
  • Stakeholder or Public Interest

Fit and Proper Person- The applicant has to satisfy the criteria of being a fit and proper person for applying for a money lender license. For example, suppose the applicant is a partnership firm. In that case, all the partners of the firm or the limited liability partnership (LLP) have to satisfy the criteria of the fit and proper person test. Similarly, if the applicant is a company, then all the directors have to satisfy the criteria of a fit and proper person test.

No disqualifications- The authority will check if the applicant does not have any form of disqualifications. Disqualifications would include civil and criminal disqualifications. Insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings would also be included in the list of civil and criminal disqualifications. The form of disqualifications is present under section 11(3) of the money lenders ordinance.

Proper Firm Name- The name of the business must not be against the provisions of any form of intellectual property law. Apart from this, the firm must not infringe any trademarks of any other company that is established in Hong Kong. The name must not be misleading from the main form of activities which are conducted by the business. The requirements of having a proper name are present under section 11(5) of the Money lenders ordinance.

Premises- The activities of a Money Lender License business must be carried out from a proper premise. Apart from this, the firm must be registered with the companies’ registry.  The requirement of having proper premises is present under section 11(5) e of the Money lender’s ordinance.

Stakeholder or Public Interest- The application for a Money Lender License must not go against the provisions of stakeholder or any form of public interest. If establishing a money lender’s business goes against any interest of stakeholder’s or public interest, then the same will not be allowed. Such an application for a money lender’s license will be rejected. The provision for public interest for a money lender license is present under section 11(5) g of the Money lender’s ordinance.

If the above requirements are satisfied, the applicant can easily secure a money lender license in Hong Kong.

What is the Process for Securing the License?

The process of securing the license is present in Part II of the Money Lender’s Ordinance.

  • Section 8 speaks about the process of making an application to the respective authority. The applicant has to fill up the application form and provide the respective documents.

The following types of application can be made:

  1. Individual Application’;
  2. Application for a Partnership Firm; and
  3. Application for a Company
  4. The application form can be submitted online on the company’s registry website. However, if the applicant wishes to submit a physical version of the application, then the same can be submitted. This physical version of the application must be submitted to the respective money lender’s office in Hong Kong. After this, if the application conforms to the requirements, then a copy of the application will be sent to the commissioner of police.
  5. The commissioner of police can make objections after receiving the application on the grounds. If there are any grounds for objecting the application, then the same must be submitted to the applicant.
  6. The notice of objection will be submitted to the registrar. The registrar will verify the objection and the same will be forwarded to the magistrate. The court will fix a date of hearing and communicate the same to the applicant. Fourteen working days will be provided to the applicant to attend this hearing.
  7. If all the criteria are satisfied and the court does not find any form of discrepancies in the application, then the application will be granted. The court may impose any conditions if they deem fit for the money lender license.

Hence if all the requirements are satisfied by the applicant, the money lender license will be granted.

Conclusion


There are a lot of advantages in starting the business of money lender license in Hong Kong. While some of these advantages provide viable business structure and international opportunities to the applicant, the main objective of setting up this business is to carry out financing activities for individual and commercial businesses. While there are specific disadvantages of starting a money lender license in Hong Kong, the advantages of starting this business outweigh the disadvantages.

Read our article:Money Service Operator License in Hong Kong: Step by Step Procedure

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Varun Hariharan

Varun Hariharan has completed the Legal Practice Course from BPP Law School, Manchester. He has a Masters in Commercial and Corporate Law from the Queen Mary University of London and LLB Honours from Bangor University, UK. He specialises in law related to corporate, artificial intelligence and technology law.

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