The Bank of East Asia (“BEA”) is incorporated as a limited company on 14th November, 1918, three days after the armistice ending the First World War was signed. Established by nine local business leaders, BEA supported entrepreneurs who needed modern financial services that neither foreign banks nor traditional Chinese “yin-hao” could provide. Today, BEA is one of the few remaining home-grown banks in Hong Kong.


The Bank formally opens for business, with its Head Office at 2 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong.


BEA opens a branch in Shanghai where the modern banking industry flourishes after the First World War. BEA has maintained a continuous presence on the Mainland since then, even during the most tumultuous years of the 20th century.


The Bank pays HK$700,000 to acquire 10 & 10A Des Voeux Road Central in 1920, moving its Head Office to the new building in 1921. BEA’s Head Office has remained at the same commanding location ever since.

Embracing the spirit of innovation, BEA is the first bank in Hong Kong to introduce safe deposit box service. The annual fee for a safe deposit box was HK$7 in 1921. Since their introduction, safe deposit boxes have continued to be an extremely popular service.

Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam) was historically a major trading centre for the rice business, much of which was in the hands of Chinese merchants with close ties to Hong Kong. In 1921, BEA opens its Saigon Branch, a logical move to capture business opportunities in the region. The branch was forced to close after the outbreak of the Second World War.


In the early 1920s, BEA shares are traded on the local stock exchanges in Hong Kong. BEA cements its status as a leading local business in Hong Kong.


With the development of the Kowloon Peninsula, BEA becomes the first bank in Hong Kong to open a branch in Kowloon, in Yaumatei.


With business expanding quickly, the decision is made to rebuild the Head Office building. Not long after its opening in July 1935, the new bank building is widely regarded as one of Hong Kong’s most distinctive works of architecture. The new Main Branch houses a giant vault to store gold and other valuables, which were accepted as security against loans at the time. The vault door continues to occupy pride of place in the Bank’s Main Branch.


BEA contributes to the war against foreign invasion by promoting Chinese National Salvation bonds to Hong Kong residents, raising millions of dollars in support of China’s war effort.


During Japan’s invasion of Hong Kong, BEA opens its bank vault as an air raid shelter for residents and provides food to refugees.

As the city faces great hardship, the Bank sells properties to buy rice, which is used in lieu of cash to pay employees.


On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, BEA reaffirms its commitment to the community by donating HK$100,000 to local charities.

1950s to 1970s

BEA helps finance Hong Kong’s industrial boom from the 1950s to the 70s, spreading “Made in Hong Kong” products around the world.


BEA establishes a strong foothold in Southeast Asia with the opening of its Singapore Branch.


As Kowloon becomes a major industrial and business centre, BEA establishes a significant presence in the area by acquiring land at Nathan Road and erecting its Mongkok Building. BEA is currently renovating the Mongkok Building to serve the needs of its customers in the 21st century.


On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, BEA establishes a HK$500,000 scholarship fund to support students studying for a university degree.


BEA is the first local financial institution in Hong Kong to link branches by computer, which greatly improves the efficiency and competitiveness of the Bank.


The Bank sets up its first training centre and develops training programmes to help staff members improve their skills and advance their careers. While early programmes were similar to apprenticeships, the Bank now offers a wide range of professional development and life-skills courses at every stage of an employee’s career. In addition, the Bank manages an extensive e-Learning platform for staff members in offices around the world.


BEA joins hands with Bank of America to launch the first Hong Kong dollar credit card, the East Asia BankAmericard.


BEA and Bank of China join forces to launch the first foreign currency credit card settlement service on the Mainland.

BEA joins hands with foreign and Mainland companies to form the first Sino-Foreign joint venture company, Beijing Air Catering Limited.


BEA is a founding member of JETCO, a consortium of local banks that launches Hong Kong’s first interbank network of automatic teller machines.


BEA redevelops its Head Office on Des Voeux Road Central, heralding a new era of growth for the Bank.

The Bank enters the insurance field by forming East Asia AEtna Insurance (Bermuda) Co. with AEtna International Corporation.


BEA opens its first US branch in New York. BEA sold 80% of its US retail operation to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (“ICBC”) in 2011, maintaining a fully-owned wholesale operation in New York and Los Angeles.


The establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”) in 1980 brought tremendous opportunities. Capitalising on this development, BEA jointly establishes China’s first Sino-foreign joint venture finance company, China International Finance Company Limited (Shenzhen), to provide sophisticated financial services to companies in the Shenzhen SEZ.


BEA commences its own independent credit card operations.


BEA pioneers the property mortgage business in China, establishing standards that are widely followed on building quality, developers’ credibility, documentation, and legal compliance.

1990 & 1991

BEA continues to expand its services to Chinese communities overseas, opening London Branch in 1990 and Los Angeles Branch a year later. The Bank also establishes The Bank of East Asia (Canada) the same year. In 2009, BEA sold an 80% interest in its Canadian operation to ICBC.


BEA expands its support for Hong Kong students, celebrating its 75th anniversary by establishing a HK$2 million scholarship fund for study at local universities.

Taipei Representative Office opens and is upgraded to a full branch in 1997. BEA is the first local Hong Kong bank to operate a branch in Taiwan.


Recognising the need to grow in order to gain economies of scale, BEA acquires United Chinese Bank in Hong Kong. BEA completes its merger with United Chinese Bank in 2001.


BEA’s Shanghai and Shenzhen branches gain People’s Bank of China approval to provide Renminbi (“RMB”) services to foreigners and foreign-invested companies. BEA is one of the first foreign banks to earn this accreditation.


BEA expands its general insurance business by acquiring full ownership of Blue Cross (Asia-Pacific) Insurance Limited.

Moving into a new era of internet banking, BEA launches Cyberbanking, the first comprehensive internet banking service, and Cybertrading, the first online stock trading service in Hong Kong.


BEA acquires First Pacific Bank Limited, cementing its place as Hong Kong’s third largest listed bank in terms of consolidated assets and propelling its total assets above the minimum set by the People’s Bank of China for foreign banks to expand their branch network on the Mainland. BEA completes its merger with First Pacific Bank in 2002.

BEA Trustees enters the pension fund management business, offering the BEA (MPF) Master Trust Scheme and the BEA (MPF) Industry Scheme. BEA Trustees is one of only two Mandatory Provident Fund (“MPF”) service providers in Hong Kong that provides MPF services under both schemes to local employers and employees.


With the opening of its Xi’an Branch, BEA is the first foreign bank to open a branch in the north-western part of China.

2001 3 A 246x0w

BEA opens its Macau Branch, further strengthening the Bank’s coverage in the Pearl River Delta region.


SupremeGold, the Bank’s wealth management service, is launched to serve the fast-growing number of affluent customers.

BEA obtains official approval from the People’s Bank of China to offer online banking services to local customers – the first foreign bank allowed to do so.


BEA opens its Beijing branch, thus becoming the first foreign bank to open a branch in China’s capital since its accession to the World Trade Organization.

BEA donates HK$2 million to the Faculty of Medicine of The University of Hong Kong in support of medical teaching and research and HK$500,000 to The Chinese University of Hong Kong to establish a rehabilitation programme for SARS patients.

BEA acquires a majority stake in Tricor Holdings Limited, a company providing business, corporate, and investor services. The stake was sold in 2017.


BEA becomes the first bank in Hong Kong to provide mobile banking services through all local mobile networks.


BEA opens its flagship operations centre in BEA Tower, Kowloon. By consolidating its back office in one intelligent office building outside the Central Business District, the Bank enhances operational efficiency and accommodates future expansion.


BEA becomes one of the first foreign banks in China to be granted Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor (“QDII”) status by the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the first to obtain a foreign exchange quota for QDII business.


The Bank of East Asia (China) Limited (“BEA China”) is established, one of the first Mainland-incorporated foreign banks in China. With the establishment of BEA China, the Bank can offer a full range of local and foreign currency services to both local and foreign customers.

To capitalise on the growing demand among retail, institutional, and pension clients for investment solutions, BEA forms BEA Union Investment Management Limited (“BEA Union Investment”) together with Union Asset Management Holding AG, one of Europe’s leading asset managers. Assets under management and advisory have grown by more than 126% since BEA Union Investment’s inception.


BEA China becomes the first foreign bank to launch RMB debit cards and RMB credit cards on the Mainland.

BEA launches an online donation platform for non-governmental organisations (“NGOs”). The e-donation platform further promotes the work of NGOs, bringing them closer to actual and potential donors.


BEA China becomes the first Mainland-incorporated foreign bank to issue RMB retail bonds in Hong Kong, raising CNY4 billion in its debut issue.

2009 Bea Foundation Logo

To commemorate its 90th anniversary, BEA establishes The Bank of East Asia Charitable Foundation (“BEA Foundation”) with a mandate to expand the Bank’s support for education and establish a poverty relief programme for the underprivileged.

The Shanghai Soong Ching Ling Foundation – BEA Charity Fund establishes the Firefly Project to provide students of rural schools on the Mainland with access to computers and other educational tools that many of their peers in more developed regions may take for granted.

BEA further strengthens its core capital by issuing new shares to key strategic partners, Criteria CaixaCorp, S.A. and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.


BEA China opens its new flagship centre, BEA Finance Tower, in Lujiazui, Shanghai.

The BEA Foundation and ”la Caxia” Foundation join hands to contribute a total of HK$11 million in support of a palliative care programme for the elderly operated by The Salvation Army Hong Kong and Macau Command.


BEA issues its first standalone Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report.


The BEA Foundation establishes the BEA Parent-Child Reading Programme with Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui’s Religious Education Resource Centre to strengthen parent-child bonds and foster an interest in reading among children.

BEA funds an endowed chair at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Institute for Advanced Study to recruit world-renowned scholars and global leaders in science to build Hong Kong’s reputation as a centre of innovation.


BEA introduces its digital branch concept to the general public by opening a pop-up digital branch at ifc mall in Central. In 2017, the Bank completes the digitalisation of its entire branch network in Hong Kong.

The Bank launches the BEA University Scholarship Programme for Staff Members’ Dependents to recognise the academic, extra-curricular, and community service excellence of university-level dependents of staff members.

The BEA Foundation announces the launch of the BEA “High Five” Club, an after-school learning and support programme for children from disadvantaged families, in co-operation with St. James’ Settlement.


Next-generation BEA App delivers enhanced customer experience by introducing new mobile banking features, the online shopping platform and “i-P2P” function.

2015 Brilliance Bea Auto Finance

BEA establishes an auto-finance joint venture in China, Brilliance-BEA Auto Finance Co. Ltd.

BEA China becomes one of the first foreign banks to qualify as a direct participating bank in the cross-border Interbank Payment System.


BEA donates HK$5 million to assist the Hong Kong Red Cross to open Hong Kong’s largest blood collection centre.


East Asia Qianhai Securities Company Limited commences operation.

東亞銀行收購柬埔寨PRASAC Microfinance之21%股權 002

BEA acquires a 21% stake in Cambodia-based PRASAC Microfinance Institution Limited to tap opportunities arising from the Belt and Road initiative.

To tap the consumer finance business in China, BEA China launches innovative credit card and consumer finance products in partnership with leading internet platform companies, including Ctrip and WeBank.


BEA China upgrades its Qianhai sub-branch, becoming the first foreign bank to open a full branch in Qianhai.


BEA celebrates its 100th anniversary.