By Carson Wen, Founder and Chairman of Bank of Asia
It was two years ago this month that we officially launched Bank of Asia in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) after being granted the first banking licence by the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission in over two decades.
And, what a journey those two years have been. As the BVI’s first and only bank serving global customers via digital devices, our mission since that time has remained simple – to help transform the banking landscape.
We believed since the very beginning that through high-quality and technologically advanced banking solutions delivered via a digital platform, we can change the way people bank in a global setting. This benefits clients with more cost-effective, user-friendly services that are secured through robust quantitative analytics in the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) processes.
While digitalised banking has evolved significantly since we first started, with many new competitors entering the space, there is still significant headway to be made for the industry to reach its full potential.
Being domiciled in the BVI, one of our primary focuses to date has been to enable the more than 400,000 entities registered in the BVI, many of which have been unable to open an account, to access cost-effective, efficient, innovative and user-friendly banking services.
Our growing client list has included offshore companies and their owners as well as high-net-worth individuals and their families from around the world, with a focus on those in Asia. By operating with a fully digital platform, this means these customers can access our services anywhere in the world, at any time 24/7, and using any device.
Earlier this year in April we also launched BOA Pay, a new payment channel to enable the bank to onboard clients faster without mandatory face-to-face interviews, while still being highly secure. Since we have introduced this, our customer base has increased by many folds.
To ensure a world-class offering, we have partnered with leading service and technology partners along the way including Oracle, VnB Core Banking System, Avaloq, Amazon Web Services, Refinitiv, SWIFT, ICBC, and SAS, and we will cherish them as partners in the BOA journey.
It has also been a privilege for me personally to work very closely with the BVI Government and Financial Services Commission. Without their progressive vision to encourage FinTech innovation in the BVI, our achievements to date would not have been possible.
Despite the mammoth task of setting up the bank, our close business partner, BOA International Financial Group, through its extensive network of affiliates and partners is providing investment, wealth management advisory and lifestyle services for our customers in Hong Kong and globally. Similarly, this business is going from strength-to-strength.
So, what is next for Bank of Asia?
We certainly have no intentions to slow down. Building on the hugely successful launch of BOA Pay, we are currently in the process of developing this into a fully-fledged e-Payment and e-Wallet service. By the end of this year we plan to expand this offering to our clients.
Additionally, we are pursuing new banking licences which will enable us to further expand, including a General Banking Licence for the BVI, which will enable us to provide services to the local BVI population.
While we live in the uncertain times of trade wars, political change, and the COVID-19 pandemic presently wreaking its havoc on the international economy, we see a bright future for Bank of Asia. Most of our customers are based across Asia and the long term forecast for wealth creation in the region remains strong. Also, we see a growing appetite for digitalised banking services as its benefits are realised in our increasingly cashless society and a globalised economy, galvanised by fintech. These factors and others will continue to enable the right environment for Bank of Asia to flourish.
As we celebrate our second anniversary, I look forward to continuing to work with our fantastic leadership team to realise Bank of Asia’s vision and drive product and service innovation for our clients.