IBOR - Impact on Hong Kong (Hong Kong Dollar)

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) first issued a circular in March 2019 to request impacted institutions to begin preparing for the transition associated with the benchmark reforms.

By October, the HKMA had announced the Hong Kong Dollar Overnight Index Average (HONIA) as the RFR to the existing HIBOR. Like the RFRs chosen in other currency areas, HONIA is an overnight interbank funding rate based solely on transaction data. Whilst there are no immediate plans to discontinue the HIBOR, it will face certain reforms, and the HKMA has strongly encouraged the market to move to the new overnight rate. In the meantime, Hong Kong will adopt a multi-rate approach, whereby HIBOR and HONIA will co-exist and market participants are currently free to choose between them. In other words, Hong Kong intends to continue to publish HIBOR.

The Working Group on Alternative Reference Rates has begun to convene regular meetings to assist local market participants to prepare for this transition and to facilitate the adoption of HONIA. At the same time, the HKMA stated it will begin to conduct regular surveys to collect information on the progress of all participants’ preparatory work for the transition and will, in the process, enforce any suitable action against individual institutions deemed necessary.

Despite this progress, the benchmark reform remains an extended process and there remain several uncertainties. Authorised institutions are expected to keep abreast of both local and international developments regarding these reforms and take them into account during their preparation for the transition.

With benchmark reforms taking centre stage for international as well as domestic regulators, the HKMA has strongly recommended that institutions in Hong Kong prioritise this preparatory work as soon as possible, including setting up a transition programme and governance structure, identifying and assessing key risks, and quantifying effected exposures, as well as formulating a transition roadmap and clear, actionable plans.