Case Study: How Fidinam supported Aspire to obtain the Money Service Operator (MSO) License

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Fidinam Hong Kong Publication International Business Expansion FinTech


Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Singapore, Aspire is a dynamic fintech company that has quickly ascended as one of Singapore's top ten fastest growing companies in 2023.

Aspire has rapidly expanded its team to 450 professionals across more than 5 countries, providing innovative financial solutions such as business accounts and spend management software to over 15,000 clients across Asia.

With a vision to extend their successful services to Hong Kong, Aspire faced the challenge of obtaining a Money Service Operator (“MSO”) license in a new market.

What is an MSO License?

A Money Service Operator (MSO) is an individual or institution offering money changing or remittance services. Money changing involves exchanging different currencies, while remittance services involve sending or receiving funds between Hong Kong and overseas locations.

MSOs must be licensed with the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE) under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (AMLO), which covers both physical and mobile operations, including online services.

To apply for an MSO license, applicants must provide:

  • Incorporation and valid corporate registration documents.
  • Suitable premises for money service operations or a local management office, and a local place for storage of books and records.
  • A "fit and proper person" as the director and ultimate owner of the company.
  • Competent Compliance Officer and Money Laundering Reporting Officer.
  • Comprehensive business plan.
  • Documented anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policy.
  • Passing a written competence assessment.
  • A bank account for operating the money service business.

The processing time for an MSO license varies based on factors such as preparation and submission of forms, supporting documents, completing the written competence assessment, on-site business inspections, and the time required for CCE to obtain records for a fit and proper person test.

Generally, the MSO license is valid for two years, and renewal is required before the license expires to maintain continuous operation.

Expanding into new territory

As Aspire decided to expand into Hong Kong, they approached Fidinam Compliance and Licensing Desk to seek support in obtaining a Hong Kong Money Service Operator (MSO) license.

Recognizing the need to secure this license prior to incurring significant expenses, our Client opted for our compliance officer solution. This approach enabled the Company to initiate the application process immediately and to effectively manage the initial costs of the project. Aspire successfully established its Hong Kong entity in May 2023.

Why Aspire opted for Fidinam

Aspire chose Fidinam for our proven expertise in MSO license applications, recognizing that our knowledge and experience would be crucial for a smooth and effective process.

This decision was influenced by their existing familiarity with our firm and our reputation for delivering thorough support throughout the application journey.

Strategic execution: Fidinam’s role in the MSO License application

Fidinam provided support throughout the application, starting with the accurate preparation of all required forms.

We assisted Aspire in securing office premises that met all regulatory requirements, providing comprehensive layout descriptions for the application. Additionally, we facilitated the inspection of these premises, ensuring the office was fully prepared for the on-site regulatory review.

Our team carefully reviewed Aspire’s business plan. We maintained direct communication with the MSO officer, with our Head of Compliance, Jema Baluran, serving as the primary contact. Jema personally attended all meetings with the MSO officer to address the application requirements in detail.

We provided advice and support to Aspire’s Head of Compliance and Head of Strategy regarding the interview process with the MSO officer. This preparation covered essential topics such as onboarding protocols, KYC procedures, and data management. Jema guided them through the interview itself, offering insights and ensuring that all criteria were met.

Additionally, we took on the task of reviewing the AML compliance manual, further solidifying the framework for Aspire’s operational processes in Hong Kong.


With the expert guidance of Fidinam, Aspire successfully obtained their MSO license, marking a significant milestone in its regional expansion. This achievement reflects our commitment to providing tailored support to our Clients through complex regulatory landscapes.

Aspire's journey from a strategic vision to operational readiness in Hong Kong showcases its adaptability and determination. Reflecting on the collaboration, Joel Leong, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Aspire, commented, "Working with Fidinam not only streamlined our licensing process but also enhanced our understanding of local compliance intricacies. Their expertise was invaluable, allowing us to focus on our core operations with confidence. We are grateful for their support and are excited about our future in Hong Kong."

Fidinam can help

Are you interested in applying for a Money Service Operator (MSO) license in Hong Kong?

At Fidinam, we specialize in guiding businesses through the intricate MSO license application process, ensuring compliance and strategic alignment with Hong Kong's regulatory requirements.

Contact us via the form below or at to discover how our expertise can facilitate your successful entry into the financial services market of Hong Kong.

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