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Obtaining a MSO license in Hong Kong

posted 4 years ago

Obtaining a MSO license in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the major global financial hubs. Anyone planning to register a company and provide financial services in Hong Kong should definitely learn about all the nuances of the financial sector in this jurisdiction.

A Money Service Operator (MSO) license is required to offer money-related services in Hong Kong. This article provides an overview of the MSO license issue process and of the rules and requirements you will need to comply with to obtain the license.

What is a MSO license? Who needs to get it?

According to the laws of Hong Kong, “money service operation” means money changing and/or money remittance activities.

Money changing services include the exchange of currencies operated in Hong Kong as the main business.

Money remittance services mean:

  • sending and/or arranging for the sending of money to a location outside Hong Kong;
  • receiving and/or arranging for the receipt of money from a location outside Hong Kong;
  • arranging for the receipt of money in a location outside Hong Kong. 

Please note that the notion “money” includes money in any form and currency, including cheques and traveller’s cheques. Cryptocurrencies are not a legal payment means and neither a currency in Hong Kong.

If you intend to engage in money transfers and fiat currency exchange in Hong Kong, you must obtain a MSO license. SBSB International Legal Firm has over 6 years’ experience in providing MSO licensing services.

How does one get a MSO license?

So, you have decided you need the MSO license. What are the important aspects you should consider to avoid issues in the future?

Hong Kong has a special authority called the Customs and Excise Department that regulates money service activities in Hong Kong.

Licenses are issued under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. You should bear in mind that operating without a license is an offense punishable by a $100,000 fine and imprisonment of up to six months.

To obtain a license, the applicant must pass the “fit and proper test” which aims to prevent corrupt or untrustworthy people from serving on the board of companies.

Furthermore, for successful MSO licensing you need to register specific premises where the operator will be providing the money service. Suitable premises include:

  • premises specifically used to provide the money service there;
  • premises that are used to advertise the service or for meeting customers there;
  • premises that are controlled by the licensee (e.g. being a landlord or tenant).

After submitting all the required documents, the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (“CCE”) will request for payment of application fees. After payment, the CCE will interview the applicant and issue an additional information form to the applicant.

We at SBSB support clients in all stages of interaction with the regulator, filling all necessary forms to provide requested data.

The applicant must not have been convicted of a financial or criminal offense, or be an undischarged bankrupt. Besides, the premises for operating the business are subject to CCE’s approval.

The MSO license is commonly valid for 2 years. The licensee must apply for the MSO license extension in Hong Kong before the license expires if they wish to continue the operations.

Thus, one needs to consider a number of aspects and regulatory requirements to obtain the MSO license. If you are planning to apply for this license, it is best to entrust the task to professionals who will arrange for a quick and easy MSO license issue in Hong Kong.

Our experienced lawyers will help you incorporate a Hong Kong company, open a bank account and receive the MSO license in Hong Kong. Join our Telegram chat for detailed information about the process and terms of getting the MSO license.


posted 6 days ago


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