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Hong Kong Fintech Week 2020: Covid-19 is an Opportunity for Growth

Hong Kong Fintech Week is Asia’s global fintech event presented by InvestHK. Taking place from 2nd– 6th November, for the first time in its five year history,the 2020 fintech week is an entirely virtual experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With 350 high powered and knowledgeable speakers, 500 digital exhibitors and over 20,000 attendees from 70 economies, participation in the fintech event has never been higher.

The official opening to Hong Kong Fintech Week was given by Paul Chan Mo-Po, Financial secretary, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. Chan stressed the hardships that have been faced globally due to Covid-19, but also emphasised that the fintech sectors continuing evolution has been accelerated in part due to the pandemic.  “If Covid-19 has devastated everything it has touched, it is also aiding a wide-ranging acceptance and adoption of digital solutions. To fully realise the opportunities, fintech must create financial technology and solutions that understand and address real-life needs in today’s challenging environment and in the post-pandemic world we all look forward to.”

Chan also spoke about the sectors flourish in Hong Kong, stating that the ecosystem’s progress in the region was very reassuring as it fast becomes the first choice and how the region is fast becoming the first choice among those who are looking to reach new clients, investors and markets in Asia due to a number of initiatives launched over the past few years, including the faster payments system, YI Trade Connect Blockchain platform, Virtual Banks and Insurers and many more.

Chan also touched on the importance of talent in the fintech industry, saying: “We know fintech is the integration of finance and technology, but without the human element it will never qualify.” This was echoed in another panel, ‘Hong Kong Fintech Ecosystem Talent and Growth.’ The panel was made up of; Joseph H.L Chan, JP, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury; Calvin Choi, Chairman & CEO, AMTD Group; Prof Kar Yan Tam, Dean and Chair Professor, School of Business and Management, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; and was moderated by King Leung, Head of FinTech, Invest Hong Kong.

The panel was focused on how talent was such an important aspect to the fintech ecosystem in Hong Kong, and according to Leung is arguably the single most important factor to the ongoing success in fintech in Hong Kong. “Fintech is a people’s business,” said Joseph Chan. “We need talent that is financial services-oriented with technology know-how and creativity, making talent very important for the development of fintech in Hong Kong.”

Chan went on to say how several universities have started rolling out undergraduate and postgraduate fintech programmes in order to nurture local talents. In addition to measures launched by the Hong Kong government, he further advised the importance of work experience and on the job training when looking to grow and support the possible future members of the fintech industry.

Finally, Clement Cheung, CEO of Insurance Authority, gave a keynote as part of the festival. He began by highlighting how insurance has not escaped from the impact of Covid-19, with restrictions on travel and social distancing measures affecting the traditional mode of delivering customer services via face-to-face encounters.

He echoed the idea put forward by Chen and repeated several times throughout the festival, that Covid-19 offers a unique opportunity for improvements within fintech, with Cheung specifically citing advancements made to the insurtech sector. “Despite the widespread disruptions we are witnessing some positive responses, with insurance revamping the product mix to reply on the rising awareness of personal exposure risks, directing attention to address societal needs of retirement and health care, as well as adopting technologies to enable virtual onboarding.

“These timely moves coincide with the conviction that insurtech is a major driver of efforts to enhance financial inclusiveness and narrows he protection gap from a regulatory perspective un which product diversity anchored on indigenous demands is also conducive to stability and sustainability.”

Continuing this idea, Cheung told attendees that a common impediment to digital transformation is inertia, however, the ‘new normal’ has altered the mindset of customers and has turned them into a source of impetus for change. With this in mind, Insurance Authority have launched several measures to speed up the process, creating and bringing new insurance products to lower age brackets and penetrating underserved segments, as well as a pre-approval technical platform in order for these customers to bypass application processes as well as continuously exploring the industry to find new ways to bring benefits to their customers and themselves.

Author

  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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