Fiona Chan and Chris Cheng from our Asia Corporate team participated in the BVI Finance Asia Road Show this year where the BVI Premier and his delegation hosting a series of conferences in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Two of the key themes from the road show are outlined below. To learn more about these two key themes or our work in the BVI practice, please contact a member of our team.

Open for Business: BVI’s New Digital Bank

The Bank of Asia has been established in the BVI to address the growing needs of offshore companies and their owners. It provides a range of banking services to the BVI and other offshore companies as well as trusts and individuals from all over the world. The bank is domiciled in the BVI, but customers will be able to access its digital platform from anywhere in the world with a smart device or computer. Similarly, transactions can be done online round the clock.

At the core of the Bank of Asia is its robust Know Your Client (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regime, leveraging cutting edge technology such as facial scans and big data, and working together with strong and established partners to ensure that only legitimate customers are on-boarded and only legitimate transactions are handled. Its cutting-edge technology and use of big data enable accounts to be opened within days of satisfactory KYC/AML clearance, in contrast to the weeks or even months required by traditional banks.

Micro Business Companies

Small and micro businesses are a critical part of driving growth and innovation in the global economy. In most countries they account for more than 50 percent of economic activity. Yet corporate laws and corporate vehicles are mostly geared to Fortune 1000 size operations. The BVI has pioneered a solution – The BVI Micro Business Company (MBC) to better address the needs and purposes of small businesses.

Earlier this year the BVI signed into law the Micro Business Companies Act. The MBC framework is much simpler than that of a standard BVI Business Company, and for the first time permits small and mid-size companies to enjoy the same benefits as larger BVI companies. The MBC can be formed and accessed through a smart phone. KYC/AML checks are also enhanced through the use of Electronic Identification solutions that utilise app integrations with the IT platform of the BVI Financial Services Commission. Consequently, small businesses operate without the benefits of limited liability and often have their profits taxed at a higher personal rate than the corporate rate offered to bigger and more profitable enterprises. The MBC is a transparent vehicle. Director and shareholder information is publicly displayed on the Register of MBCs. We will be watching closely the development and uptake of this new product.

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