BEIJING / SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Beijing-based ByteDance, owner of global video hit TikTok, is taking steps to engage in online brokerage and wealth management in Hong Kong, according to trademark registration documents.
ByteDance filed an application last December to register a trademark called Songshu Zhengquan, which translates to Squirrel Securities, in Hong Kong, according to the city’s online intellectual property database.
The trademark application is “under review”, according to the database, and the business areas for which it has applied include “computerized financial information services, stock trading, brokerage services and stock market quotes ”.
The business is still in its infancy and ByteDance currently only has one full-time employee assigned to it, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The company has been granted a license but no official launch of online trading activity is imminent, the source added, declining to be named because the information is not public.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company withdrew its successful TikTok app from Hong Kong in July after Beijing established a new national security law on the semi-autonomous city. It is also trying to avoid a TikTok ban in the United States and is in talks with Microsoft and Twitter to sell its business there.
Other sources said ByteDance’s prioritizes expansion into education technology and games, rather than financial technology.
However, a Beijing-based fintech banker who spoke on condition of anonymity said it made sense for the tech giant to explore opportunities in Hong Kong rather than the mainland, where the wealth management market online is dominated by Alibaba’s subsidiary, Ant Group.
Other Chinese-owned online brokers in Hong Kong include Tiger Brokers and Tencent-backed Futu.
Reporting by Yingzhi Yang in Beijing and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore