Workforce Payments Guide Hong Kong

Last updated: Dec 31, 2023

Currency
Hong Kong Dollar (HKD)
Payroll Frequency
Monthly
Capital
Hong Kong
Fiscal Year
1 April - 31 March
Employer Taxes
5.00% + 1500.00 HKD
Central Bank
Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)
Employee Taxes
5%
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3rd Party Payments

Authority  Payment Frequency  Due Date  Payment Method 
Hong Kong Monetary Authority  Varies  Varies  e-Payment and Transfer, Interbank transfers 
Inland Revenue Department  Annually  Varies based on accounting date code  Telephone, Internet, PPS, Faster Payment System, e-Cheque / e-Cashier Order 
Social Security Contribution Monthly with the payroll payment Online, Bank Transfer

Payments Coverage

Papaya Global fully supports workforce payments in Hong Kong.

Contractor Payments

Papaya Global supports payments to contractors in Hong Kong. The payout currency may vary, depending on the receiver bank account setup when receiving foreign currencies. It is advised for contractors to reach out to their bank to confirm how foreign currencies are handled

Payroll Frequency

Monthly

KYC

In Hong Kong, the Know Your Customer (KYC) process is part of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) procedures. It involves gathering and verifying a customer’s personal data.

The Hong Kong government has released several regulations for KYC, including the 2018 Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance.

The required ID data for identifying a person includes:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Nationality
  • Unique Identification Number
  • Identity verification
  • Proof of address

Documents such as the National Identity Card (HKID), Driver’s Licence, and Passports can be used for identity verification. As proof of address, a current utility bill, bank statement, or government-issued document showing the applicant’s name and address can be used.

Financial institutions apply customer due diligence (CDD) measures such as a risk-based approach, ongoing monitoring, and record-keeping. They are required to carry out beneficial ownership due diligence verification on any individual that owns 25% or more of a target company. For higher-risk entities, the threshold may drop to as low as 10%.

The KYC process also has provisions for remote onboarding, where individuals can meet government overseers via a video-conference meeting or by sending in a recorded video. The KYC process includes ongoing monitoring where financial institutions review existing CDD records of customers regularly and/or upon certain trigger events. Record keeping is essential to detect, investigate, and confiscate criminal property or funds.

Hong Kong has been making strides towards electronic KYC (eKYC), with all eight of its virtual banks successfully launching services that allow rapid customer onboarding via web and mobile using minimal information.

Banking Regulations

Cross-border workforce payments in Hong Kong are impacted by several banking laws and regulations. Here are some key points:

  • Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA): The HKMA has been proactive in building the local financial infrastructure to provide a multi-currency, multi-dimensional platform that links up Hong Kong’s payment systems with those of the neighboring regions and international systems to facilitate faster and safer cross-border payments.
  • Payment Remittance Regulation: There are several parties involved in a typical payment remittance process, each taking on a different responsibility and function. Each party needs to assess whether its activity triggers the licensing requirements under Hong Kong’s Money Services Operator (MSO) regime. The main purpose of the MSO licensing regime is to safeguard against the risk of MSOs being used as a conduit for laundering proceeds from crimes committed outside Hong Kong.
  • Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs): Hong Kong has extended international collaboration on CBDCs for cross-border payments.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a company bank account in Hong Kong, the following requirements must be met:

1. Filling in the application form online or in a branch.

2. Submission of required documents, which include:

  • Resolution by the board of directors
  • Establishment document
  • Organizational chart
  • ID document
  • Proof of residence
  • Business plan
  • Certificate of incumbency
  • Filled form signed by authorized signatories
  • Copy of HK passport
  • Identity card
  • Valid visa (if applicable)
  • Alias proof for each principal shareholder
  • Authorized signatories
  • Beneficial owners
  • Residential proof such as bank statements, utility bills, and driver’s licenses

Business founders also need to gather a certified copy of the Articles of Association, Business Registration Certificate, and Certificate of Incorporation issued by the Companies Registry. Finally, they need to gather proof of business documents and a true certified copy of the organization that illustrates every individual’s shareholding percentage and the ultimate company’s beneficial owners.

3. At least one of the directors of the company must visit the bank. However, some banks now offer remote sign-up services.

4. Some banks require a physical meeting for all directors and shareholders. A personal interview with the bank’s representative for opening a bank account may also be compulsory.

5. All applicants, such as directors, beneficial owners, and shareholders with no less than 10% (or other pre-specified rates of the company shares) must participate.

6. Non-resident enterprises are required to attach additional documents like proof of business activities.

The process can take anywhere between 2 work days and several months, depending on the bank and the amount of investigation carried out to verify the company, directors, and shareholders’ documents and creditworthiness.

International Banks

Top major foreign banks in Hong Kong:

  • HSBC
  • Bank of China (Hong Kong)
  • Hang Seng Bank
  • Citibank Hong Kong
  • Standard Chartered Hong Kong
  • Bank of East Asia
  • DBS
  • ABN AMRO Bank Hong Kong
  • ANZ Hong Kong
  • Bank of America (Asia)

Major Local Banks

Major local banks operating in Hong Kong:

  • HSBC
  • Bank of China (Hong Kong)
  • Hang Seng Bank
  • Citibank Hong Kong
  • Standard Chartered Hong Kong
  • Bank of East Asia
  • DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
  • Dah Sing Bank
  • Bank of Communications (Hong Kong)
  • Chiyu Banking Corporation

Payment Tools

The B2C payment tools available in Hong Kong include:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • Adyen
  • AliPay
  • WeChat Pay
  • Octopus App for Business
  • Checkout.com
  • AsiaPay
  • eWay
  • JETCO Pay
  • Braintree
  • 2Checkout
  • Payment Asia
  • Faster Payment System (FPS)
  • Mobile QR
  • Credit Cards
  • Mobile Wallets such as Alipay, PayMe, Octopus Card , FPS (Faster Payment System), Apple Pay, WeChat Pay, PayPal HK.
  • Cash
  • Debit Cards
  • Digital Wallets

Cryptocurrency

In Hong Kong, it is possible for employers to pay their employees in cryptocurrency, but it is not fully regulated and there are several legal implications to consider. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) treats cryptocurrency not as a virtual currency but as a virtual commodity, meaning it is not completely regulated by any financial regulatory authorities in Hong Kong.

It remains unclear whether the Labour Department or Hong Kong courts will classify cryptocurrency as “wages” under the Employment Ordinance. Due to the volatility of cryptocurrency, employers may find it challenging to comply with the Minimum Wage Ordinance if they choose to pay wages in cryptocurrency.

As for taxation, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) has stated that remuneration received in cryptocurrency is subject to income tax in Hong Kong. Both employers and employees have reporting obligations to declare the amount of income received in cryptocurrency. The reported amount should correspond to the market value of the cryptocurrency at the time of accrual.

Employers interested in paying salaries in cryptocurrency can consider options such as a combination of payment in traditional currency and cryptocurrency, employee bonus schemes paid in cryptocurrencies, or immediate conversion to cryptocurrency after salary payment.

Compliance with Hong Kong law and regular review of the risks and contractual terms of remuneration payments in cryptocurrency is advised. Despite the current uncertainties, it is anticipated that future use of digital currencies will be facilitated by amendments to the currency and securities regulations.

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