HK-UK Fintech firms bridge international banking for startups

Fintech Neat has partnered with Railsbank to make international current accounts available to startups and SMEs (Image MicroStockHub / iStockPhoto)

According to Future Kind founder Shaun Cunningham, Hong Kong had the distinction for being the worst place for a startup to open a bank account. In his article “Hong Kong: The worst place in the world for a startup to open a bank account?,” published on January 21, 2017, he compared his experience opening a bank account in the UK in 2014 versus that of Hong Kong in 2016 and commented the experience as: “couldn’t have been more different”.

This was followed by a September 12, 2017 published on the HKMA website commenting how things have improved (see “Tips for start-ups to open bank accounts offered by an entrepreneur”).

Have things really changed? For startups maybe!

Most traditional small businesses still face stiff challenges opening a bank account – even those in the Fintech startup business. As startups and SMEs expand beyond Hong Kong, cross-border banking services may grow in importance to these companies.

Hong Kong-based Fintech Neat has partnered with UK’s Railsbank to make international current accounts available to small businesses.

Both FinTechs share a common vision that international banking should be accessible to everyone and that the current situation of global banks exiting international banking for SMEs should not impact the international aspirations of entrepreneurs and SMEs. 

This vision is realized through this new partnership, by enabling access to the financial services all startups and SMEs need for cross-border business.  The partnership starts with global access to local banking services (including debit cards) and will be expanded into other financial services including credit and insurance.

Neat helps companies around the world incorporate in Hong Kong and open a business current account – accompanied by Mastercard debit cards – something that has traditionally been a challenge for startups and SMEs.

Enhanced by Railsbank’s open banking platform, which provides local access to global markets, Neat’s customers now have access to localized bank accounts, debit cards and payment capabilities in several locations around the world.

This opens doors for entrepreneurs to easily do the following for their businesses:

  • open domestic GBP accounts in the UK, EUR accounts in the SEPA region, and US dollar accounts in the United States, in addition to HKD accounts in Hong Kong;
  • break into global markets, and expand their businesses with customers and partners worldwide;
  • eliminate international transfer fees and charges when conducting business around the world, and make and accept payments in international markets instantly.

“This partnership marks Railsbank’s expansion into the Asia market and it represents a major step for us. By combining our complementary technologies, entrepreneurs will no longer be forced to open bank accounts with different banks around the world, something that has been needed for many years,” said Nigel Verdon, co-founder and CEO of Railsbank. “We’re excited to join forces with Neat to make international business opportunities more accessible to startups and SMEs.”

“Neat has customers in over 100 countries, with cross-border and e-commerce traders making up a large part of the customer base. As a result of this partnership, our customers can now easily receive payouts from online marketplaces, as well as provide their customers based in Europe, the UK, or the US with local payment instructions,” said David Rosa, CEO of Neat. “Railsbank’s technology is top-tier and we’re proud to partner with them.”

First published in FinTech Innovation

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