Let's fight financial crime and
build a secure future together

HSBC Safeguard App Competition

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HSBC Safeguard

Around the world, banks and their customers are transitioning to a new reality. Regulators expect banks to prevent financial crime such as money laundering, terrorist financing and the evasion of sanctions - and HSBC is committed to meeting the highest standards in its controls against these kinds of activities.

Criminals who try to access the financial system harm lives and communities everywhere through activities such as human trafficking and the trade in illegal drugs as well as fraud and identity theft. We believe these issues matter to everyone and we want to work with our customers to fight against these criminals.

Information is the best defence. Update yours now.

To succeed, we need more information about our customers than in the past: from customers applying to open accounts and from existing customers. Understanding who we bank with, the source of their wealth and the purpose of their relationships with HSBC is vital to our defences against criminals. This is why we have launched HSBC Safeguard.

We will be requesting up-to-date information from our customers to help us protect you and resist the criminals who want to access the financial system. We understand how frustrating these kinds of requests from banks can be. We are sorry for the inconvenience that they may cause, and thank you for playing your part in the fight against financial crime.

We appreciate that it may take time for you to provide up-to-date information. We will continue to enhance our digital channels to make it more convenient for customers to respond to our information requests.

Data protection and security.

The purpose of updating existing customers' information and collecting new customers' information is to ensure that our systems and processes can protect both our customers and the bank against financial crime. We take our obligation to protect your data very seriously, so all the information you provide will be subject to the HSBC Group's high data and security standards. The intent in asking you to confirm or update your existing information and provide new information is to use this information for your protection.

What you need to do next?

You do not need to do anything at the moment. In order to manage the process, we will be contacting customers individually on a phased basis to let you know when you need to update your information.

Watch this film in which Diana Cesar, Hong Kong Chief Executive, explains why HSBC is committed to working with customers to fight financial crime.

Frequently asked questions

About HSBC Safeguard
HSBC Safeguard and you
Data and Security

What is HSBC Safeguard? How will HSBC Safeguard protect me?

HSBC Safeguard is a series of initiatives designed to better protect all our customers from fraud and financial crime through our global systems. It involves strengthening our ability to detect and deter money laundering and evasion of sanctions as these activities harm lives and communities everywhere. We will be requesting the most up-to-date information from our customers which could include the source of their wealth and the purpose of their relationships with us. By better understanding these, we will be able to protect your bank accounts from potential misuse and prevent criminal actions that abuse the financial system.

In addition, we will no longer be offering products such as travellers' cheques, as we believe they are no longer a safe enough way for our customers to convert their money. We may review other products like this over time.

What is financial crime?

Fraud and financial crimes are forms of theft. They tend to involve money or property that are gained illegally, and used in a deceptive or illegal manner to gain benefits from the proceeds. In today's complex economy, financial crimes can take many forms, including money laundering, sanction breaches, fraud, tax evasion, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption.

What are sanctions?

Sanctions are a policy tool which national governments and organisations such as the United Nations and European Union use to constrain and deter perceived threats to their security, or to require international conduct to conform to recognised international standards. Sanctions help stop crimes like terrorism, drug trafficking and arms dealing by imposing restrictions on the business that banks can do with specific people, corporations or countries. The names of these are clearly listed on resources like the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list.

Why is financial crime an increasing concern?

Fighting financial crime has been a longstanding priority for HSBC. However, criminal activity has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. Fraudsters, money launderers and others have persistently targeted the global networks of financial institutions.

Improving the way we share and manage customer information will help us fight against the risk of financial crime. After all, it's our duty to ensure that you can bank with us safely, securely and confidently.

I have banked with you for years. Why do you suddenly need additional information?

We understand your concerns and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for using our banking services. As a responsible bank, keeping customer account information accurate and up to date is key to making banking more secure for customers and protecting the community from financial crime. We thank you for your understanding and support.

I have completed similar types of banking transaction many times before, why are you asking me so many questions now?

We understand your concerns and appreciate that you may have been using HSBC to meet your banking needs for a long period of time. As fraud and financial crime are becoming increasingly sophisticated, we need to adopt new measures to provide you with better protection. Therefore, from time to time, we do need to update our customer records to ensure they are current and complete. Having stronger checks will help prevent fraud and other financial crime.

Don't you have all of the information that you require?

We need to periodically conduct reviews with customers in order to obtain the most relevant and up-to-date information. This is to ensure that all of the information we have is accurate, up to date and covers details that you haven't provided before or weren't previously required. The information you provide will help us protect your account from potential misuse and the community from financial crime.

What has financial crime got to do with me or my business?

Financial crime and fraud can affect everyone. As the world becomes increasingly connected and information moves around at a greater pace, there are unfortunately greater opportunities for criminals to misuse the financial system. A key defence against money laundering is to prevent accounts from being opened with false identities.

We also sometimes need to verify the origins of the funds as part of our ongoing efforts to track our customers' legitimate funds and to protect them from financial crime. Criminals will try to appear to be law abiding citizens or businesses and therefore we need to request relevant documents from our customers in order to protect them and their accounts.

Security has always been important. Why are you asking me for more information now?

Constant changes in technology and the way companies do business have affected the whole banking industry and, in turn, how we protect it. Fraud and financial crime are becoming even more sophisticated and globally organised - so we have to be more vigilant than ever. We need you to help us stay one step ahead of financial crime by providing us with up-to-date information.



Through the HSBC Safeguard App Competition, we want to mobilise talent in Hong Kong to develop app-based solutions that enable customers to meet banks' information requirements in more convenient and secure ways.

The competition has now come to an end. Please see the press release "Winners of HSBC Safeguard App Competition Announced" for the results.

This competition seeks to solve real-world challenges for the banking industry. Participants are asked to tackle one or both of the following challenges:

1 Challenge one


Retail customers

Customer information changes every now and then, but customers may not notify their bank. This can make it challenging for banks to authenticate transactions, while it may also be difficult to alert customers when needed.

How can technology be used to ensure that changes in personal information can be synchronised with the bank's records, with customers' consent?


When customers change mobile numbers, they do not always update their details with their bank. In Hong Kong, mobile numbers are recycled for other users, so if customers' mobile numbers are not up-to-date there could be duplicated bank accounts linked to one mobile phone number.

That creates challenges in authentication and sending alerts to customers, and complicates customers' registration for, and use of, P2P platforms.


Identify a solution for banks' customer information, such as their mobile phone number and address, to be updated automatically and in real-time, without relying on the customer or the bank to do this.

2 Challenge two


Business customers

Traditional means of contacting customers, such as by phone, post or email, may not always be effective, especially when customers are away from Hong Kong.

How can banks enhance their ability to contact the right people within business customers' companies, wherever they are?


Contacting company owners or key decision makers who are often away from Hong Kong poses a challenge, given the reliance on traditional forms of communication such as phone, post or email.


Help banks identify the best contact approach for each company and the best way (when, how, who) to contact the appropriate person in the company. Enable banks to be notified of any changes in contact information and receive updates of the new contacts automatically.



Students from local tertiary institutions in Hong Kong. Students can participate as a single entrant or in a team of up to five members. Team members can come from different tertiary institutions and from any discipline. Each student team member must have a registered student email address in order to qualify. Each student can only register once and for only one team.


Hong Kong-based start-ups with businesses registered in Hong Kong between 30 June 2012 and 30 June 2016 and which have been incorporated for at least one year and no more than five years. The startups must hold all valid permits and licenses required or necessary for their business activities.

The representatives of each business enterprise must be the founder(s) of the business, owning the majority share of the business and actively engaged in its management.


Winner - HK$100,000
Runner-up - HK$50,000
3rd prize - HK$30,000

Winning contestants may also receive seed funding from HSBC.


Winner - HK$300,000
Runner-up - HK$100,000
3rd prize - HK$50,000

Winning contestants may also receive seed funding from HSBC.


Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), the technology enabler for the HSBC Safeguard App Competition, is providing a variety of Application Programming Interfaces (API) to help contestants create innovative technology solutions to the challenges. ASTRI has developed a blockchain-based virtual platform that allows contestants to instal the virtual platform on their own computing equipment.

Participants are required to download the suite of API below to develop an app prototype for either iOS or Android. A video demonstration of the use of the API is available at the same link.

Judging criteria

Able to address business challenges
Able to solve the business challenges faced by HSBC in requesting customer to update information

User experience

System stability and scalability
Stable and can be used on multiple devices

Creativity and innovation
Unique and innovative

Business potential
Shows potential to be commercialised and is able to add value to the business

Key Dates

All proposals will go through a first round screening process. Teams from each category will be shortlisted and notified by early November to proceed to the Demo Day in early December, when they will have the opportunity to present their proposals in front of a judging panel of technology and banking experts.

Winners will be selected and results announced on the Demo Day.

Proposal submission
12 September 2017 - 31 October 2017 noon

Notification to shortlisted teams
November 2017

Demo Day and award presentation
13 December 2017

Watch more

Protecting a world of opportunity

HSBC's purpose is to connect people with opportunities. But today's connected world creates new challenges. We are committed to helping protect the financial system on which millions of people depend.

Or click here to view the video.

Accuracy versus truth

Noel Quinn, Chief Executive, Global Commercial Banking, HSBC, meets a reformed criminal to find out about the techniques used by fraudsters to mislead banks and investors.

Or click here to view the video.

Challenging the traffickers

Challenging the human traffickers - an interview with a former victim of human trafficking. It's good to give the moral, human side of the financial crime story, to help people see the real impact of financial crime.

Or click here to view the video.