Protests in Hong Kong won’t stop the virtual bank

Protests in Hong Kong won’t stop Standard Chartered from pursuing its ambitions to set up a virtual bank in the city, CEO Bill Winters said Monday.

The British multinational, which has a strong presence in emerging markets, is part of a joint venture that was licensed to operate a digital bank in the region earlier this year.

At an event in London, StanChart’s boss said the protests had “no impact” on the goal of debuting an online lender.

“The protests are worrying for all sorts of reasons,” said Winters. “But we have a dedicated team, nobody had any problems coming to work in the morning.”

A Reuters report last week expected most of Hong Kong’s eight newly licensed banking firms – including StanChart’s – to delay virtual banking rollouts due to ongoing protests.

In August, Standard Chartered was one of three banks, including UK lender HSBC, calling for a peaceful end to the stalemate between the city’s government and protesters.

The bank supported the Hong Kong government and the “one country, two systems” principle, which has granted special freedoms in the administrative region to those not available on the mainland.

The protests, which recently spanned the fourth month, were sparked earlier this year by a bill that would have paved the way for the people of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam recently said the bill would be “withdrawn entirely”. Ejecting the proposed legislation was one of five demands made by protesters in the city-state.

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