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Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 - Day 1 Highlights

Asia's flagship financial technology conference brings together FinTech founders, banking executives, VCs, regulators and fintech-savvy audiences.

“Hong Kong is made for FinTech companies, entrepreneurs and investors!”

Opening Keynote by John Lee, Chief Executive, Hong Kong SAR

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, got Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 underway with a bang, telling a packed keynote audience that the city is the ideal environment for Fintech. Citing Hong Kong’s position as one of the world's leading financial centres and China's major financial sector, he said “No other economy can claim our unique advantage under the one country two systems principle, to draw on and create opportunities from both our country and the world at large.“

This year’s event theme is "FinTech Redefined", which he noted will help shape the future of FinTech in every dimension. After referencing initiatives in his recent policy address designed to boost growth and promote the sustainable development of the Hong Kong Stock Market, he revealed plans to promote the better integration of Fintech and green finance, and establish Hong Kong as a green Fintech hub.

Last year, the green and sustainable debts issued in Hong Kong exceeded US$80 billion, while green and sustainable bonds arranged in Hong Kong accounted for more than one-third of the entire Asian market.

“These, and other achievements, reflect the prowess of Hong Kong's financial sector and its potential. The HKSAR Government is committed to the continuing rise of Fintech and is expanding research and reach and influence in Hong Kong and beyond. We offer unparalleled opportunities for Fintech businesses to grow and thrive in this 21st century of opportunities,” he said.

“The Greater Bay Area, as one of the most open, dynamic, and competitive world-class city clusters, is well-positioned for developing Fintech and inclusive finance.”

Keynote by Zhang Qingsong, Deputy Governor, People’s Bank of China

Zhang Qingsong, Deputy Governor, People’s Bank of China, shared his observations about inclusive finance empowered by Fintech in Mainland China.

He stated that over the years, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has attached great importance to Fintech, as a technology-driven financial innovation that has become a key engine for promoting inclusive finance in the digital economy.

He shared the PBoC’s practices to promote inclusive finance through Fintech, such as guiding financial institutions to build digital business systems underpinned by data and computing power. Zhang also focused on micro and small businesses (MSBs), detailing how PBoC has helped them use Fintech to develop financing plans based on differentiated algorithms and establishing digital risk control to improve credit approval and overall risk management. These processes have achieved tremendous results, with MSB loans reaching 29 trillion RMB and an all-time low on interest rates. He spoke briefly about how PBoC’s digital technology features helped elderly and people with disabilities to bridge the digital divide.

He noted that “Hong Kong is an international financial centre, as well as an innovation and technology hub. The Greater Bay Area, as one of the most open, dynamic, and competitive world-class city clusters, is well-positioned for developing Fintech and inclusive finance.”

Finally, he announced that PBoC will sign a tripartite MoU with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Monetary Authority of Macau to further strengthen regulatory cooperation on Fintech innovation in the GBA.

“FinTech is not just for banking. It is a catalyst for driving change and innovation.”

Keynote by Paul Chan, Financial Secretary, Hong Kong SAR

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan used his keynote address at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 to redefine both the industry landscape and the role of Government regulators. “It (Fintech) is about bringing real impact, positive impact and tangible benefits to people's lives. We see ourselves not just as a gatekeeper for investor or consumer protection, but also as a facilitator to help entrepreneurs succeed.”

According to Chan, at last count Hong Kong was home to about 1,000 Fintech companies and startups, representing an increase of 25% in 2022. They also include a growing number of “different” use cases. He highlighted a local tech firm that is leveraging blockchain and IoT technologies to help farmers in remote areas obtain credit based on the condition and rate of growth of their livestock.

He believes Hong Kong's increasingly broad Fintech landscape is the result of concerted efforts by the government and the private sector. These range from providing seed funding, investor matching, incubation and professional support for Fintech startups, to creating regulatory sandboxes in collaboration with authorities in the Greater Bay Area to test cross-boundary solutions. “The Government has been committed to promoting Fintech development in Hong Kong, with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong's financial services industry and the real economy, empowering financial institutions to accelerate digitalisation and product innovation,” Yue added.

“Real economy related applications and innovations by the VA and Web3 sector will provide further impetus for growing our Fintech ecosystem.”

Keynote by Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, HKSAR

Christopher Hui shared three “major initiatives to foster Fintech development” which aim to link financial technology with the mainstream finance and retail economies. The initiatives will cater to different sectors of the market by enhancing efficiency and connectivity. He expressed government support for the innovation and sustainable development of Fintech in financial, asset, and green spaces.

Hui announced an Integrated Fund Platform “to add one more layer, one more component to Hong Kong’s whole suite of financial infrastructures, which is a development of a new integrated fund platform targeting the retail sector.” The integrated platform, which will launch at the end of 2024, was developed in partnership with HKEX. The platform will serve the roles of a communication hub, a business platform, and an information portal for further strengthening Hong Kong's position as an international asset and wealth management centre.

Other initiatives include welcoming cross-boundary eCNY usage, to “further integrate eCNY into our local financial ecosystem”. FSTB also revealed that Octopus Cards Limited (OCL) and Bank of China (Hong Kong) (BOCHK) will seek to explore new eCNY applications. Hui also added there will be “efforts to introduce further enhancements of our regulatory regime, as well as promoting real economy related applications and innovations by the VA and Web3 sector. These initiatives will contribute to the real economy and provide further impetus for growing our Fintech ecosystem."

“To move Fintech forward we need a cross disciplinary mindset.”

Keynote by Eddie Yue, JP, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, HKSAR

Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive, Eddie Yue opened his keynote with a whirlwind account of his avatar’s vacation in the multiverse across three continents and two oceans. As he welcomed a return to the real world, he observed how the Fintech world has evolved significantly from a mere buzzword in 2016 to now being an everyday part of life in Hong Kong with successes like Hong Kong’s Faster Payments System (FPS). He predicted the next stage of Hong Kong’s Fintech journey would require three key areas of attention: long-term commitment and sustained investment; a cross disciplinary mindset; and cross-sector and cross-border collaboration.

“In our mission to redefine Fintech, we believe Fintech is more than the convergence of ‘fin’ and ‘tech’. It is an interdisciplinary subject that intersects across various fields like law, sociology, politics, economics and more. To move Fintech forward we need a cross disciplinary mindset.”

HKMA is working closely with the Bank of Thailand to link Hong Kong’s FPS and Thailand's PromptPay, in a new service called "FPS x PromptPay QR Payment,” set to launch on December 4. Hong Kong’s FPS users will be able to connect to over eight million PromptPay merchants in Thailand, while the 50,000 FPS merchants in Hong Kong will also accept payments from PromptPay users in Thailand. Yue also predicted the use of data to be more extensive and diverse with the creation of a data policy unit announced in the recent policy address. While the pace of blockchain innovation and especially tokenisation will increase in coming years, HKMA is in discussions with market participants to explore further use cases for distributed ledger technology (DLT) in capital markets, including a second tokenised government green bond.

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