The state of play

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG - By OSWALD CHAN in Hong Kong oswald@chi­nadai­

The fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy (Fin­Tech) in­dus­try is flour­ish­ing in Europe, in­creas­ingly seen by na­tional gov­ern­ments as a strong fu­ture growth driver.

A 2015 sur­vey by Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Ire­land, a cross­sec­tor in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, showed job growth in tech­nol­ogy-led fi­nan­cial ser­vices was 34 per­cent be­tween 2009 and 2012.

The Ir­ish govern­ment iden­ti­fies in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial ser­vices (IFS) as a pri­or­ity sec­tor for fu­ture growth. In the IFS 2020, a strat­egy pa­per to pro­mote in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial ser­vices, the Ir­ish govern­ment set out its vi­sion to fo­cus on niche spe­cial­iza­tion and in­no­va­tion within all sub-sec­tors of IFS, in­clud­ing Fin­Tech.

In Swe­den, cap­i­tal Stock­holm at­tracted city the se­cond high­est value of Fin­Tech in­vest­ments in Europe over the past five years.

In 2014, in­vest­ments in Stock­holm-based Fin­Tech com­pa­nies reached $266 mil­lion, rep­re­sent­ing al­most 20 per­cent of to­tal in­vest­ments in the Fin­Tech in­dus­try in Europe, ac­cord­ing to Busi­ness Swe­den, a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship which aims to help ev­ery Swedish com­pany “reach their full in­ter­na­tional po­ten­tial” and to “at­tract for­eign di­rect in­vest­ments in Swe­den.”

In 2014, Fin­Tech ac­counted for 32 per­cent of Swe­den’s to­tal $826 mil­lion in in­vest­ments in pri­vate firms and the in­dus­try em­ploys some 4,600 work­ers, Stock­holm School of Eco­nom­ics data re­veal.

The UK is also catch­ing up in the Fin­Tech game and vy­ing to be the world’s largest tech hub, beat­ing even Sil­i­con Val­ley.

Joel­son Wil­son, a UK law firm spe­cial­iz­ing in startup le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion, says Fin­Tech at­tracted more than 360 bil­lion pounds ($509.7 bil­lion) of in­vest­ment in 2015.

Govern­ment pro­mo­tion agency Lon­don & Part­ners said tech­nol­ogy firms se­cured $1.6 bil­lion in ven­ture cap­i­tal fi­nanc­ing in the first nine months of 2015, or 10 times higher than the fig­ure in 2010.

Global think tank Ox­ford Eco­nom­ics says the num­ber of tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses in Lon­don will rise to 45,000 in the next decade and gen­er­ate eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties worth over 12 bil­lion pounds.

In Hong Kong, Cy­ber­port will set aside a ded­i­cated 3,000 square me­ters of co-work­ing space called “Smart-Space” and roll out a des­ig­nated pro­gram to pro­vide sup­port to 150 Fin­Tech star­tups over the next five years, the govern­ment Bud­get for the 2016-17 fi­nan­cial year pledged.

Ire­land, the UK and Swe­den sent high-level min­is­te­rial del­e­ga­tions to Hong Kong to pro­mote their Fin­Tech ser­vices in­dus­tries and ex­plore pos­si­ble co­op­er­a­tion with the SAR in this field.

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