As customers of the failed Silicon Valley Bank rush to open new accounts at other banks, SVB’s China-based customers are in a bind. They face far more obstacles than their American counterparts when it comes to setting up new U.S. bank accounts, making an immediate switch from SVB much harder.
That’s in part because Chinese tech startups backed by foreign investors are typically incorporated in the Cayman Islands as a way to get around China’s restrictions on foreign ownership. That corporate structure makes the procedures to open a new account more complicated and time-consuming due to anti-money laundering and other regulations, according to entrepreneurs and investors. Partners at Chinese VC firms helping their portfolio companies find SVB alternatives say they expect the process to take months.