The first week in November saw this year’s edition of Hong Kong FinTech Week, hosted jointly by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and InvestHK, with the help of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Insurance Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission. The main event runs 3rd-5th November, with satellite events taking place 1st-2nd November .
It’s Asia’s premier fintech spectacle, with last year’s virtual event drawing more than 1.2 million viewers and 500 exhibitors; hosting over 350 speakers, 230 journalists and 29 delegations from over 130 economies; and generating more than 100 hours of content. The week-long event featured conferences with prominent speakers, the Global Fast Track programme, exhibitions, a deal floor, networking events, demo shows and more.
This year’s event, whilst hosting many online sessions and virtual interaction, will be a primarily physical, in-person one, with panel discussions being hosted across 5 stages. As with other similar events, a return to physical discussion and collaboration is very welcome indeed, after a year or so of virtual-only events & webinars.
So, let’s take a quick look at what the first day of Hong Kong Fintech Week brought us – including some fascinating insights from some of the most respected names in the Fintech industry.
Mr. Paul Chan, Financial Secretary, Hong Kong SAR, started off day one of the conference proper with his opening remarks. He set the tone for this series of events by saying that Hong Kong is the market of choice for fintech companies to scale up and expand regionally and globally – and that’s why it makes an excellent venue for a gathering such as this.
The Keynote Speech
Then, it was onto the Keynote Speech by Yi Gang, Governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). In his talk, Mr. Yi focused on the subject of big data, something which is likely to be a recurring theme throughout this event. He highlighted the rapid expansion of the use of data, and it’s resulting importance to both fintech and the wider world of business.
He then moved onto talk about the regulation that has already been introduced to deal with the issue of big data, whilst committing to stronger oversight for personal data collection in the financial services industry. Furthermore, he called for a more accurate definition of data ownership through international cooperation to achieve universal standards. In his view, if we all work together on this project, we can use the forces of big data for good, for fintech, global business and consumers everywhere.
Power Talk: Challenges, Opportunities, & Everything in Between
This panel discussion was moderated by Mr. Eddie Yue, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and focused on the digital transformation challenges faced by traditional financial firms both now, and in the near future. Joining Mr. Yue were Mr. Joe Tsai, Co-Founder & Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group, Mr. Neil Shen, Founding & Managing Partner, Sequoia Capital China, and Mr. David Liao, Co-Chief Executive, Asia-Pacific, HSBC
This talk was set against the backdrop of uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns in major countries, financial disruption and consumer unease. Mr. Yue described how global events such as these place an even greater emphasis on digital transformation, and challenged his guests as to their thoughts on this topic (as business leaders), how these processes will shape the future of finance and, finally, what kind of leadership is needed in this digital world?
Alibaba’s Mr. Tsai explained his view was that going direct to customers would foster innovation and a digital transformation culture across company operations. Both fintech and techfin players are in the business of risk management and this makes regulation all the more important, he said. He also highlighted how the subject of data now plays an important part in any discussions or decision making processes, no matter the size of the company, and with the use of data comes the need to digitise the business.
Sequoia Capital China’s Mr. Neil Shen said the fintech investment landscape is increasingly global. He shared his view that, if a product is successful in a certain city or region, it stands a good chance of appealing to an international customer base. This applied, he said, to both traditional financial service companies, and younger Fintech ones – an appetite for cross-border interactions at all levels.
Finally HSBC’s Mr. David Liao wanted to talk about how we view “traditional banks” and said it is up to every industry to discover opportunities and find new ways to serve customers through better use of their data. Whether serving retail customers or corporate institutions, the key to business, he said, is to effectively serve the greater societal needs – and this trend will shape the trajectory of many businesses in the near and long-term.
New Opportunities Under the Wealth Management Connect
The panellists on this discussion were Mr. Joseph Chan, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Hong Kong SAR, Mr. Kelvin Lei, CEO & Co-Founder, AQUMON (Magnum Research) and Mr. Arnold Chow, Deputy General Manager of Personal Digital Banking Product Department, Bank of China (Hong Kong)
The panellists agreed on the market’s positive response to the scheme and the evident benefits to expanding the choice in investment options for consumers. They acknowledged that the demand for RMB products and the inclusion of digital RMB in the Wealth Management Connect scheme will drive the internationalisation of the RMB. More specifically, Mr. Joseph Chan hailed the newly launched Wealth Management Connect as a “major breakthrough” for Hong Kong’s financial services industry.
Anything else to discuss?
Firstly, we had scale-up firms Choco Up, FQX and Linklogis, who shared their positive experiences in scaling their business locally with the attendees at Hong Kong Fintech Week. They cited the wide range of support and resources from InvestHK and other HK Inc. partners across the HK fintech ecosystem that helped them to propel their expansion plans internationally with new commercial partnerships and business development services.
Next up, there was The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau’s (FSTB) renewing their commitment to nurture Hong Kong fintech talent. Mr. Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Hong Kong SAR, shared the FSTB’s strategic vision, which will be centered around nurturing the fintech ecosystem in Hong Kong, as well as focusing on the City’s increasingly important role in the Greater Bay Area. He shared plans to grow the fintech ecosystem through an open data policy, cross-boundary coordination, and risk management, all with the aim of nurturing fintech talent.
FInally, we have the SFC, who proposed a joint review of virtual assets with HKMA. Taking to the stage was Ms. Julia Leung, Deputy Chief Executive Officer & Executive Director, Intermediaries, Securities and Futures Commission. Ms. Leung pledged that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) would review the fintech hub’s virtual asset regulation following a year of increased online funding activity from SFC-licensed corporations.
Citing the SFC’s latest survey on the sale of investment products in Hong Kong, Leung said virtual assets are here to stay. “Online sales accounted for a fifth of all the funds sold and the number of SFC-licensed corporations selling funds online more than doubled last year,” she said.
Looking Ahead to the Rest of the Week
Wednesday was the first day proper of Hong Kong Fintech Week, but the action doesn’t stop there, with plenty of discussion still to come. The current state and future developments of Fintech, Hong Kong Fintech, global business, and all manner of financial service verticals will be debated in depth. Thursday also features a full-day of events, sessions and panels, and you can catch up with them virtually, or by reading the daily summaries at The Fintech Times.