HONG KONG: DRIVING FINTECH’S GROWTH IN ASIA

WITH HONG KONG FINTECH WEEK, THE CITY BRINGS TOGETHER INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPERS AND BOLSTERS ITS APPEAL AS A HUB FOR FINANCIAL TECHNOLOGY

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HAVE YOU EVER

gone into a shop and paid for something with your mobile phone? Or bought an insurance policy online? How about contributed to a crowdfunding campaign?

These are all ways ordinary people use fintech, or financial technology. Fintech is widely used by corporations, too. Banks, for instance, use fintech for tasks such as analysing big data to assess risk. The fintech ecosystem is broad, involving startups that develop the technology; incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces that support entrepreneurs; regulators that oversee compliance; and companies that use the services.

Hong Kong is establishing itself as a prime place for developing fintech. On its side is the city’s status as a global financial centre, as well as its position as the superconnector to mainland China, the country with the highest adoption rate of fintech in the world. Further supporting Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem is the annual Hong Kong FinTech Week hosted by Invest Hong Kong.

HONG KONG’S ADVANTAGES

Hong Kong has long been described as the world’s freest economy and benefits from rule of law and a strong legacy of finance and trade. Its location and unique relationship with mainland China make it a super-connector to the country, where 69 percent of digitally active people use fintech, according to an EY report published this year. Mainland fintech enterprises are often heavily focused on the domestic market, and if they want to expand overseas, Hong Kong makes sense as a base for them to connect to the rest of the world.

Fintech is already thriving in the region. Fintech investment in Asia more than doubled to US$11.2 billion in 2016 from US$5.2 billion in 2015, according to Accenture. Within Asia, Hong Kong and the mainland accounted for more than 90 percent of investment in 2016.

It helps that Hong Kong’s government has created favourable regulations and initiatives to support fintech activity. To fast track the technology’s development, last year regulators permitted a number of banks to trial new technology through a ‘sandbox’ programme – a testing environment for software under development. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is leading an initiative to explore the feasibility of using Blockchain technology in the financial industry to reduce risk and increase transparency and efficiency.

The private sector has played an important role, too. The Hong Kong Fintech Association has just been launched this year, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors and representatives from financial and educational institutions who aim to promote fintech development. Industry leaders also frequently organise meet-ups, keeping Hong Kong on the cutting edge.

WHAT IS HONG KONG FINTECH WEEK?

Quite simply, if you’re at all interested in Asian fintech, this is the event to be at. The week features a broad mix of speaking events, pitching sessions, demos and workshops. Interactive, insightful discussion panels will cover topics focusing on Hong Kong’s particular strengths: startup funding, IPO, fintech in China, Blockchain, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, insurtech, regtech and wealthtech.

The week will demonstrate Hong Kong’s unique position in connecting to the fintech pulse in China. Speakers invited by China’s largest financial news provider, China Business Network ( Yicai), will bring an insider view on the latest in China’s fintech scene. Experts will also cover fintech opportunities pertaining to the Chinaled Belt and Road initiative. Together with other international speakers and participants, these insights make Hong Kong FinTech Week stand out from other events in the region.

And of course, it’s a great networking opportunity, bringing together fintech developers from China and the rest of the world looking to grow their business in Hong Kong. Regulators, financial institutions and service providers will host ‘office hours’ (one-on-one sessions) to guide and mentor entrepreneurs. Training workshops will offer tips on how to succeed in the fintech business, and accelerators will hold competitions for startups.

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