ICBC launches first virtual Visa credit card in Hong Kong

September 17, 2020.

said Thursday that it has launched the first Visa virtual credit card in Hong Kong in response to the increasing popularity of cardless payment via mobile phones.

The bank, the biggest in the world by total assets, said that it has been promoting contactless and cardless payment services by developing more diversified credit-card products for both online and offline consumption, to meet the buying patterns of different customers.

The new ICBC Virtual Digital Credit Card follows the launch of the ICBC MasterCard Virtual Digital Credit Card and the ICBC UnionPay Dual Currency Virtual Digit Credit Card. The cards are known collectively as the ICBC Virtual Digital Credit Card.

The application process for the new card is also digital. Customers can apply for it via the ICBC (Asia) app on the Apple App Store, Google Play or Huawei App Gallery. Once the application is accepted, the card can be linked to various digital wallets.

The latest digital card launch comes after lawmakers and medical experts urged the Hong Kong government to encourage contactless payments to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to an August report from the Asia Times. Banknotes are believed to have helped spread the coronavirus in open-air “wet” markets and in restaurants and taxis, the paper said. 

Contactless payments generally have seen a surge in adoption globally amid the pandemic.

The new card also comes into the market at a time when Hong Kongers are eager to try out new financial technologies. According to a YouGov survey of Hong Kong residents’ attitude toward fintech products, conducted in April and commissioned by Visa, 53 percent of respondents expressed an interest in trying fintech products. 

Hong Kong has seen a wave of virtual banking in the past year, after the granted licenses to three virtual banks in March 2019, a fourth in April and four more in May 2019. The first of those banks to open its “virtual doors,” Za Bank, a unit of China’s ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co., launched in March. WeLab and Livi launched in August.