Overall, the banking system in Hong Kong is characterised by excellence. That said, most banks are very cautious about opening a corporate bank account for a foreign-owned corporation. It can take 1-4 months to establish the corporate account you need so that your company can start using it to trade in Hong Kong and the mainland.
At one time, getting a corporate bank account in Hong Kong was quite easy, with completion occurring within just a few days, and could often be done from branches in other countries. However, after several major Hong Kong banks ran afoul of foreign regulators, this easy access came to an end.
Although China’s increasing liberalisation has eased the process somewhat recently, foreigners still face significant restrictions when attempting to open a new corporate account in Hong Kong. Banks in the SAR typically demand a great deal of paperwork, and after a long wait, may still refuse to open an account for you. Regretfully, in the past, the sheer difficulty of starting a corporate banking account in Hong Kong has driven foreign investors away.
In part, this difficulty arises from the fact that many of the Chinese banks in Hong Kong are still government-owned, and by international standards, are neither efficient nor transparent. However, it has become clear that the Chinese economy will inevitably eclipse all other Asian economies and many Western economies—as long as any difficulties hindering its continued growth are cleared away. This has encouraged the government to simplify the process of by which corporations in both HK and China go about getting their official accounts with banks.
This has not happened overnight, but little by little, banks have been streamlining their corporate account processes. The entry of international financial organisations like DBS bank and Citibank into the Hong Kong and mainland markets have also encouraged greater efficiency. Competitive market forces have also been chipping away at the existing corporate account restrictions.