Hong Kong Fintech Week came to an end on Friday in Shenzhen, reflecting the key cross-border theme of the programme. The five-day event was packed with important announcements, presentations and panel sessions covering all key aspects of financial technology, and involved experts from around the globe and some of the world’s biggest fintech companies. It all combined to set Hong Kong apart as a fintech leader in Asia.
Presented by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), Fintech Week drew more than 8,000 attendees from over 50 economies, more than 260 world-class speakers, 100 exhibitors, 60 start-ups and 1,000-plus business matching meetings. There were plentiful side events, including visits to innovation labs and education events organised by universities. The Week was truly global, featuring international pavilions hosted by Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel and the UK, and with trade delegations from Japan, Mainland China, Singapore, Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the US. The energy and the exchanges during the Week were unparalleled.
The event has grown substantially larger in terms of attendance, exhibitors and venue size. The high-quality content and networking opportunities captured the attendees’ imagination in the first two days with FinovateAsia and then in days three to five with the main conference programme organised by Finnovasia. On Friday in Shenzhen, delegates attended a short seminar cum luncheon with local business and government officials, plus fintech company visits to Tencent, WeBank and ZhongAn.
The Government’s strong backing for the fintech sector and the Week was evident in a keynote speech by the Financial Secretary, Paul Chan. He highlighted the rapid growth of Hong Kong’s fintech sector, including some of the very recent developments, reinforcing the message behind InvestHK’s new tagline for Fintech HK: “Launch, Leap, Lead”. (Click here for the full speech.)
There were more than 300 reporter visits to Fintech Week over the five-day period, and journalists were provided with plenty of news and fresh information to write about. The news began to flow Tuesday evening at the Fintech Week launch event hosted at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX). The Chief Executive of the HKEX, Charles Li, announced that the HKEX will be working with Digital Asset to “introduce the first blockchain platform in the financial services industry in Hong Kong”. He said this will initially be for Stock Connect, or Blockchain Connect, adding, “If it works with Stock Connect, there’s no reason why we can’t extend it to the broader market.”
Wednesday and Thursday provided more for the regulatory connoisseur. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) held a ceremony on Wednesday to launch eTradeConnect, the HKMA’s blockchain trade finance platform, with the 18 companies involved.
On Thursday, after a keynote speech by the Chief Executive Officer of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), Ashley Alder, in which he gave context for an important forthcoming SFC announcement on cryptocurrencies, the announcement followed. The SFC Regulatory Sandbox will be used to monitor the activities of virtual asset exchanges, with a view to setting up a framework for potential regulation and licensing. He added that the SFC will be announcing a regulatory framework for robo-advisory in April next year.
Later on Thursday, 19 companies from nine markets pitched to a panel and an audience in the Fast Track Demo Show, a new initiative of InvestHK and Finnovasia to attract and assist overseas business setting up in Hong Kong. The five winners, AIZEN (Korea), SoCash (Singapore), BluefireAI (Hong Kong), AAAccell (Switzerland) and BeamAndGo (Singapore), took home prizes sponsored by the 14 Fast Track Partners. The Partners were also on-site to provide expert advice and consultancy.
In this third year, Fintech Week was the world’s first cross-border fintech event, with events held in Shenzhen. It showcased Hong Kong in the context of the many opportunities that exist in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, with its population of 70 million. The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, James Lau, highlighted the key areas for collaboration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in fintech as well as in promoting innovation and technology.