Business Proof Required for Account Opening — For eComm Owners in Mainland China | Article – HSBC VisionGo

This article sets out for reference the usual business proof required of eCommerce from Mainland China in applying for a business account with HK bank

Finance  ·    ·  4 mins read

Banks in Hong Kong will need to see business proof in order to understand your company and to approve your application for a business bank account. Given the huge variety in nature of businesses and their operation environment, the documents required may differ from case to case. This article sets out for reference the usual business proof required of eCommerce from Mainland China in applying for a business account with Hong Kong banks.

The key areas covered in this article include:

  • List of essential business proof
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Examples and illustrations of business proof

List of essential business proof

For example, at HSBC we need to know about the company background, business model and financial information of the eCommerce owner seeking to open an account.

Company background

The business proof submitted should show:

Example

Business owner

An URL link to the online shop and a screen capture of the online shop (showing the owner and date of commencement of the Shop).

 

Operation experience

 

Business license(s) of related companies (if any, as evidence of the owner’s experience in the area. )

State of operation

The business proof submitted should show:

Example

Procurement records

Procurement orders and payment records as shown on the e-platform

Storage records as shown on the e-platform

Sales records

Records of sales order and payment collection on the e-platform

Bill of lading from the freight carrier, or service contract with logistics service provider

Financial position

The business proof submitted should show:

Example

Records of money transactions

 

Accounting journal of the online shop on the e-platform

Monthly statement for the bank account of cash withdrawal, and monthly statement of cash payment e-wallet

Source of funds and source of wealth

Bank statements from shareholders of the business 

Audit reports or bank statements from related companies

Frequently asked questions

Answers to the following questions are provided for reference by bank staff who are highly-experienced in processing business proof. However, as circumstances may vary with different applicants, the ultimate requirements relating to certificates/documents shall be subject to advice by the branch staff handling your specific case.

1. I do not have the documents on the list. Would I be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong?

The documents listed above represent typical requirements that are more readily available for application of a business account with Hong Kong banks. If you do not operate as an online shop, the illustrative examples are not applicable to you. However, if your online shop does not keep all operational data on the platform (for example, if you use your own storage facilities rather than the platform warehouse), then the requirement of “Storage records as shown on the e-platform” would not be applicable. To process your application, the bank would suggest that you submit other documents as evidence of procurement. Therefore, if you do not have any of the documents listed in the example, please contact the bank to find out more.

2. What’s the time requirement covering procurement, sales or cash transaction records? 

In general, the bank would require records for the past three months regarding materials captured or downloaded from the platform (for example: sales report, accounting journal, etc.). For procurement records, submissions should reflect transactions made within the past six months, while bank statements, e-wallet transactions (such as Alipay), etc. should cover the entire six-month period preceding the application.

3. What’s the difference between source of funds and source of wealth?

“Source of funds” refers to the initial deposit into the newly opened bank account, whereas “Source of wealth” means the startup funds of the company, both of which could come from the same source, or from different origins. For example, a business startup may have its “Source of funds” and “Source of wealth” transferred from the personal accounts of the founder or shareholders. In this case, it would be necessary to provide bank statements of accounts held by the founder or the shareholders. In other cases, the funds may come from shareholders, with the “source of wealth” coming from other businesses (or related companies) held by the shareholders.  Supporting documents in this case would include the bank statements from the shareholder (as proof of source of funds), and the business license and bank statement of the related company (as proof of source of wealth).

4. I am the owner of the business, but some documents bear the names of my family member or staff, would this be acceptable?

Many applications take longer than necessary to process because the name of the applicant does not tally with those on the documents. Considerable time and communications are needed between the bank and the applicant to clarify the discrepancies. It would be more efficient if application documents are submitted along with the relevant proofs of relationship with the owner. For example, if the owner of the online shop happens to be your staff, remember to include the employment contract or salary records of this staff in your company background. If the business license of your company bears your spouse’s name, be sure to include your certificate of marriage.

Examples and illustrations of business documents

Below are some examples of business proof accepted by the bank. Please do bear in mind that the screen captures required may vary with different e-platforms and application cases. 

  • Screen capture of the home page of your online shop on the e-platform 

This screen capture from Alibaba shows clearly the name of the online shop. Hence, it serves as part of company background information for the bank’s review. 

  • Screen captures from the e-platform showing customer orders, payments, logistics messages of your online shop.

This screen capture from Alibaba provides details of orders received from an online business, including customers, items sold, transaction amounts, payment collection and logistics updates. This allows the bank to have a clear picture of the company’s business model. 

This screen capture from Amazon shows details of orders received, including customer, items sold, transaction amounts and payment collection. While these provide part of the information needed to understand the company’s state of operation, relevant logistics documents would be needed as a supplement. 

  • Records of procurement and payment by the online shop on the platform

The following images are captured from 1688, showing procurement records of the online shop including items procured, amounts due, payment and status of transactions. In this case, the supplementary information needed would be payment records such as a screen capture of the Alipay accounting journal.

  • Contract, invoice, payment record, logistics agreement and customs declaration document relating to procurement (other than on e-platform)

  • Records of fund movement by businesses on e-platforms

The below screen capture from Alibaba is a record of fund movements by the online shop at a specific date, which facilitates the bank’s understanding of the company’s financial information.

The screen capture from Alibaba below contains details of cash withdrawals made by the online shop, and provides insight into the cashflow position of the company.

This is a monthly sales report downloaded from Amazon, with detailed records covering sales income, platform expenses and outward fund transfers. This provides an understanding of the company’s cashflow situation. 

We hope the above illustrations could provide better understanding of the supporting business proof required in applying for a business account with Hong Kong banks. If you have further questions, please contact the account opening manager at your bank.

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