Further strengthening of the business links between Hong Kong and mainland China is not only providing companies with new opportunities for expansion and investment, but also bringing a new level of convenience for customers.
For example, along with its newly launched phone banking roaming service, ICBC (Asia) is now offering a pioneering auto-remittance service for non-resident investors making mortgage payments on properties in Shenzhen. This is actually a value-added service of the Mortgage Plus scheme, which is co-managed with the bank's holding company, ICBC, and currently covers Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province.
The "Auto-remittance for Mainland Mortgage Payment" service now allows customers buying property in Shenzhen to pay monthly instalments through ICBC (Asia), which arranges onward transfer of the funds. As a result, Hong Kong owners of property in Shenzhen no longer have to make payments in person or pay the current high remittance fees. And, as an added attraction, all setup and alteration charges for any customer making auto-remittance arrangements are being waived.
In order to maximise convenience, application procedures are kept as simple as possible. As Brian Fong, head of retail banking for ICBC (Asia) explains, "The entire process takes no more than five days and charges are only HK$50 for each auto-remittance transaction. This is much lower than standard remittance fees and our professional team on the mainland will ensure that everything runs smoothly. We also provide the advantage of a more efficient service as customers will not need to use middlemen to arrange things."
Assessing future prospects, Mr Fong believes many customers will appreciate the benefits of the service. "As the separate economies in the Pearl River Delta continue to converge," he says, "we expect more Hong Kong people to purchase property across the border and the introduction of this service definitely addresses their needs."
Mr Fong adds that the bank is seeing an increase in investor interest in the property sector in Shanghai and is forecasting rapid growth there in the coming years. "With the chance to leverage our widespread network in mainland China, we will extend services to meet customer demand," he says.