A Rare Glimpse of History at BEA’s 1OOthAnniversary Exhibition

16th April, 2019

For a century, The Bank of East Asia has served the people of Hong Kong. As part of its centenary celebrations, the Bank held a launch ceremony on 24th October, 2018 at ifc Mall. Dr. David K.P. Li, Chairman & Chief Executive of BEA, together with Professor Arthur Li, Deputy Chairman of BEA, and Dr. Allan Wong announced a series of centenary celebration activities, including The Bank of East Asia’s 100th Anniversary Exhibition.

Located in the Oval Atrium of ifc Mall, the exhibition ran for one week, concluding successfully on 1st November, 2018. In addition to providing information on the Bank’s achievements and contributions to the banking industry over the past 100 years, the exhibition enabled visitors to interact with a timeline wall, and view rare historical artifacts from BEA’s archives that had never been on display.

Many of the items were closely connected to significant historical events and developments at the Bank and in Hong Kong. BEA specimen notes from 1924 gave visitors a glimpse of Shanghai’s dynamic banking industry in the early 20th century, while Chinese National Salvation bonds issued during the Sino-Japanese War were a reminder of a period of great hardship. The display of traditional cheongsams worn by frontline staff revealed trends of the past.

In addition, visitors could take Augmented Reality photos in front of an image of the bank teller counter located in BEA’s former Main Branch in 1935. Collectively, the items on exhibit brought a century of history at BEA to life.


BEA Chairman and Chief Executive Dr. David Li raises a toast with other Directors. (Left to right): Mr. Brian Li / Dr. the Hon. Rita Fan / Mr. Aubrey Li / Professor Arthur Li (Deputy Chairman) / Dr. David Li / Dr. Allan Wong (Deputy Chairman) / Dr. Daryl Ng / Mr. Adrian Li

The interactive timeline wall at the exhibition gives visitors a closer look at BEA’s century of history. Dr. David Li demonstrates how it works.

Mr. Norman Chan (left), Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Dr. David Li (right) admires the exhibits, many of which are on public display for the first time.

Invented in the US in the late 19th century, the comptometer was a mechanical calculator that was considered an advancement over the abacus. Operated by keys, the comptometer allowed its operator to input every digit of a number at once, which improved efficiency and reduced the chance of error. BEA's frontline and back office personnel relied on comptometers until the advent of the electronic calculator.

In the early 1960s, Hong Kong's financial sector began to expand rapidly and banks reached out to the mass market, which included children, who were encouraged to open savings accounts with as little as one dollar. To attract customers, BEA and other banks regularly gave out gifts to customers, including savings boxes and piggy banks.

Embracing the spirit of innovation, BEA was the first bank in Hong Kong to introduce safe deposit box service in 1921. The historic safe deposit boxes were recreated in 1:8 ratio to let visitors learn more about the service.