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“Small” Accounts for “Big” Opportunity

ICBC optimizes account services to help SMEs for a good start


Account services are the “starting point” for enterprises to enjoy financial services offered by banks. In recent years, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) refined the fundamental services of account opening, and launched a series of exclusive and innovative account services for small and micro enterprises (SME), helping them score a good start. In 2020, over 1.1 million start-ups opened their “first corporate account” through ICBC exclusive account services.

Online/offline-integrated account opening for SMEs

“I was expecting high thresholds and long procedures for SMEs when doing business with big banks, but it turned out so fast,” said Ms. Wang, a start-up owner in Chongqing, “I worried it would take too much time at the bank, but had it all done in only less than 30 minutes. Now I can devote all my energy into business running.” What Ms. Wang was mentioning was the online/offline-integrated account opening service that ICBC launched for medium-, and small- and micro-sized enterprises.

While optimizing the account-opening process, the innovation also realized real-time information sharing and electronic authentication of business license, freeing them from carrying paper business license, filling in paper application form and typing in license information for opening an account. The measure greatly reduced paper documents to be provided by customers, expedited the process of account opening, and was well-received among SMEs.

Direct printing of business licenses at the Bank

“I meant to drive to the city hall early in the morning to queue up and apply for business license, but was told by a friend that I could have it directly printed at ICBC outlets. I had a try in Jinfeng Subbranch nearby, and it did work!” Mr. Ma in Yinchuan said excitedly, holding the freshly printed business license in hand: “It was not only close, but also fast. We can have our business licenses processed and bank accounts opened in one run, without having to run around between government offices and banks. It’s really convenient.”

Mr. Ma was referring to an innovative measure of ICBC for improving the quality and efficiency of account services. Striving for less trouble for customers, the Bank tapped into technology and network and worked in collaboration with administrative approval centers in Sichuan and Ningxia. With intelligent approving devices placed at ICBC outlets, customers were enabled to finish applying for business licenses online, printing licenses offline and opening bank accounts within one visit to the Bank.

Opening multiple foreign currency accounts with one set of documentation

Recently, Ms. Zhang from a Shanghai-based export company came to an ICBC outlet to inquire about opening foreign exchange accounts. “I was intending to open only a USD account, but learnt from the outlet staff that I was able to open multiple foreign currency accounts at the same time by submitting only one set of documentation. Our company happened to be discussing export business with clients in Europe, Japan and South Korea, so we opened another three foreign currency accounts with ICBC at once.” According to Ms. Zhang, the whole process took only about 20 minutes, not only meeting their pressing needs of receiving USD payments from overseas partners, but also addressing the issue of collections after running business in multiple countries.

The “new service” Ms. Zhang was using is a brand-new account opening model recently launched by ICBC for corporate foreign exchange accounts. By submitting one application online, enterprises were enabled to have multiple currency accounts opened simultaneously and share multiple products at once. The new service better facilitated enterprises for global operations under the “dual-circulation” development pattern.

Witness account opening in different areas freeing customers from traveling around

Accountant Li from a Jilin-based trade company was surprised by the fact that he had its corporate accounts opened in Jilin and Sichuan Wuliangye Subbranch one day after he ran through the procedure with ICBC. “ICBC service is so efficient,” Li commended.

The service Li used was “supply chain 1+1” witness account opening newly launched by ICBC. With the service, the Bank further improved the industrial chain-supply chain integrated services and effectively solved the problem encountered by upper- and down-stream clients of core enterprises on excessive cost incurred by traveling between different areas for account business. In a short three-month period since the launch of the service, the Bank had opened accounts for over 100 clients at both ends across the country of several core enterprises, cumulatively granting over RMB500 million financing and signing and issuing nearly RMB700 million bank acceptance bills.