BOCHK-backed virtual lender Livi eyes further SME business growth after strong 2023

“There is strong demand from SMEs for banking services and lending,” Sun said in a media briefing recently. “This will be the focus of expansion at Livi Bank in coming years.”

Livi, which is among eight virtual lenders that started operations in Hong Kong in 2020, started offering corporate banking services in March with a focus on SMEs.

“This newly launched service is a major growth segment, as we progress the growth of our business,” Sun said. “Going forward, Livi Bank will see accelerating growth led primarily by corporate banking businesses.

“We will continue to make substantial investments in new products and segments.”

Livi joins Ping An OneConnect Bank – a virtual lender indirectly owned by mainland Chinese insurer Ping An Insurance – in increasing lending to SMEs, helping the city’s small players capture growth opportunities in the post-Covid-19 era.

In the first nine months of this year, Hong Kong received more than 23 million visitors, including 18.7 million from the mainland, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The previous year, it was visited by only 604,564 people.

This jump in tourism following the reopening of the border with the mainland in January is creating new opportunities for SMEs in sectors such as trading, e-commerce and retail, Sun said.

There were 340,000 SMEs in Hong Kong at the end of last year, employing 45 per cent of the city’s private workforce.

“Livi is offering a simple and easy way for SMEs to open an account,” Chen said. “Our SME banking services have continued to experience steady growth since the launch in March.

“We will continue to expand further on SME lending in future by leveraging our strong network of shareholders and business partners.”

“Some restaurants face keen competition, as many Hong Kong people like to go north for their weekends, in Shenzhen or other Greater Bay Area cities,” Chen said. “We have to send people pretending to be customers to check on their businesses before offering them a loan.”

SMEs in the trade and cross-border e-commerce sectors, on the other hand, are reporting good growth after the border reopening, and some would like to take out bank loans to support their development further.

Cross-border e-commerce is thriving, with Hong Kong being a key market, and Livi will continue supporting SMEs in this area, said Weiwei Wang, the head of Greater Bay Area and digital platform at the virtual lender.



China Economy – South China Morning Post BOCHK virtual lender Livi SME business growth

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