Hong Kong FinTech Week 2022 breaks boundaries and ushers in new era of finance (with photos)
Hong Kong FinTech Week (HKFW) 2022 concluded on November 4, wrapping up a landmark five-day event for Hong Kong fintech amid an eventful week for the city as it steps back on the world stage.
The entire week attracted a record high of over 30,000 visitors and over 5 million views online from over 95 economies, featured over 500 distinguished speakers and over 600 sponsors and exhibitors, and attracted more than 30 international delegations.
The main conference saw a full cast of global financial and technology leaders with many returning in person to the city for the first time since 2019, as well as significant announcements made during the event, reinforcing Hong Kong’s continued position as a leading fintech hub of Asia.
Under the theme “Pushing Boundaries, Reaping Benefits”, this year’s conference explored the future development of fintech through four key sub themes – global fintech outlook, fintech in Mainland China and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), the implementation of emerging technologies, and digital assets.
The HKFW was led by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK). It was co-organised by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Insurance Authority.
The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, said, “Only five years ago, we counted no more than 180 fintech companies. Today, we are home to more than 800 fintech enterprises, large, small and start-ups. That impressive growth has been powered by Hong Kong’s open market, a rigorous regulatory regime, the rule of law, sophisticated infrastructure and the free flow of capital and information.”
Mr Chan added, “As an international financial centre, Hong Kong is open and inclusive towards the global community of innovators engaging in virtual asset businesses. The Government, in conjunction with the financial regulators, is working towards providing a facilitating environment for promoting sustainable and responsible development of the virtual asset sector in Hong Kong.”
New Policies for a New Era
On October 31 , the Financial Services and the Treasury bureau issued a policy statement to foster the sustainable development of virtual assets in Hong Kong, while maintaining caution in regard to the risks to investors.
The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr Christopher Hui, said, “We recognise the potential of distributed ledger technology and Web3 to become the future of finance and commerce, and, under proper regulation, they are expected to enhance efficiency and transparency. The Government is prepared to embrace this future, and we welcome the clustering of the fintech and virtual asset community and talents in Hong Kong, and we will promote the sustainable development of financial services across the whole virtual asset value chain.”
Among the key topics covered under the policy statement is regulation, in which the SFC will conduct a public consultation on how retail investors may be given a suitable degree of access to virtual assets, as well as Hong Kong being open to the possibility of having exchange traded funds (ETFs) on virtual assets. Meanwhile, the HKMA will also announce the outcome of its consultation and next steps into a regulatory regime for stablecoins in due course.
Hong Kong is one of the pilot cities for China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), also known as eCNY. During his presentation, the Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Mr Yi Gang, expressed the important role of eCNY in China’s economy and society, while emphasising that striking a balance between privacy protections and combating illicit activity is at the top of their agenda.
“The People’s Bank of China ensures personal information security through the banks’ technology and strict management with full adherence to consumer privacy protection laws and regulations,” he said.
Hong Kong’s Role in Unlocking GBA Opportunities and Financial Inclusion in Asia
The unique position of Hong Kong was a major theme, particularly the role the city can play in driving financial inclusion across Asia as well as the opportunity to capitalise upon the rapid development of the GBA economic zone.
The President and Chair of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Mr Jin Liqun, also talked about the major role Hong Kong can play in driving financial inclusion across Asia. “Hong Kong’s deep pool of talent and capital are critical in promoting regional economic development and financial stability. And its membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is a big plus in the institution’s goal of lifting people out of poverty and into prosperity,” he said.
He noted that Asia’s incredible diversity means there is no magic bullet for achieving financial inclusion across the region and called for both public capital and private capital to work together to leverage their respective strengths.
In his opening keynote address, the Secretary of Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Algernon Yau, said that now is the perfect time to discover how Hong Kong can add value to fintech businesses through its proximity to the GBA.
“Hong Kong is one of the most competitive economies in the world, serving also as an important gateway connecting the Mainland with global markets. We have our own overriding advantages and enjoy abundant opportunities under our country’s 14th Five-Year Plan, the GBA development and the Belt and Road Initiative. At the same time, Hong Kong continues to do well in different areas and is ranked as the world’s freest economy in the Economic Freedom of the World 2022 Annual Report by the Fraser Institute, in which Hong Kong has gained the top rank since the inception of the report in 1996,” he said.
The CEO of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, Mr Nicolas Aguzin, also remarked in his speech that the GBA is one of the most exciting economic development zones in the world. “The GBA has absolutely all the right conditions to be a sandbox for what I call the Big Bang of finance,” he said. “It’s like having Silicon Valley and Wall Street all in one place. This is very unique.”
Meanwhile, co-CEO and Executive Director of Ping An Group Ms Jessica Tan stated that the GBA’s benefits for fintech companies include a robust market and a large number of talented individuals.
Driving Innovation and Technology to Support Fintech Growth
Major advancements in core technologies such as artificial intelligence and Web3 are important elements in supporting fintech development in Hong Kong. The Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Professor Sun Dong, remarked on the significant progress that has been made by Hong Kong’s two flagship innovation and technology (I&T) organisations.
“All these new initiatives will inject strong impetus to our I&T development, including the vibrant growth of the fintech cluster. Hong Kong is poised to scale new heights in fintech innovation,” he said.
Hong Kong in the Right Place, Right Time to Capitalise on Web3
To demonstrate the ethos of embracing emerging technologies, this year’s event adopted Web3 and the metaverse as a key focus. Organisers issued limited edition non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for the first time to further engage participants. With 3D scanning devices at the event, token holders were able to create their own augmented reality avatar ready for the metaverse, providing a new experience for the guests.
The Chief Executive Officer of New World Development, Mr Adrian Cheng, suggested that Hong Kong has a lot to offer in terms of virtual assets, cryptocurrency and blockchain.
“With our unique position in the GBA, Hong Kong will dominate regional development of cross-boundary blockchain infrastructure and blockchain ecosystems. Hong Kong is also at its best in guiding companies to navigate blockchain opportunities across Mainland China,” Mr Cheng said.
Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Animoca Brands Mr Yat Siu also emphasised that Hong Kong has an advantage in adopting Web3 technologies. “Speed is one of Hong Kong’s special sauces, and technology adoption is rapid. Four years ago, most people in Hong Kong didn’t even know what NFTs were. Now we have the Hong Kong Government issuing NFTs. It shows there is a real love for this new type of stuff here, and the potential to drive the region,” he said.
Supporting Next-Generation Talent
Talent was another hot theme during the conference, with many industry leaders recognising the importance of cultivating talent to usher in a new era of fintech as well as the vast opportunities the GBA can present for young people.
The Senior Director of Ant Group, Mr Jason Pau, announced a strategic partnership with InvestHK on a global fintech training platform, 10×1000 Tech for Inclusion, to enhance talent development, improve diversity and promote the digital economy in Hong Kong.
The Director of the Shenzhen Financial Regulatory Authority, Mr He Jie, spoke on how Shenzhen is also supporting talent development in the GBA. “I think that talent cultivation will become a key point in the GBA as talent cultivation becomes a key point in fintech development. Already we have licensed more than 1,000 students for our Shenzhen-Hongkong-Macau FinTech Professional Programme,” he said.
Global Fast Track 2022 Programme Winners
Early this year, InvestHK launched Global Fast Track 2022 to help fintech companies leverage the unique advantages of Hong Kong to scale across Asia. The programme received over 400 applications from 45 economies and facilitated one-on-one meetings with more than 100 Corporate, Investor and Service Champions.
InvestHK also partnered with the HKMA this year to launch an exclusive CBDC track, which was welcomed by the industry and received over 80 applications.
During the conference, top 10 finalists gave presentations to the judges. The final winner of the Global Fast Track pitch competition was privacy computing start-up BaseBit.ai.
For the CBDC track, awards were presented to:
- Best Technology Award – ARTA TechFin and Giesecke + Devrient a52 GmbH (G+D Filia)
- Best Use-case Award – Hang Seng Bank and Bank of China
- Best Ecosystem Award – HSBC and VISA
Finally, Hong Kong FinTech Week’s appointed event organiser, Finnovasia, also announced its rebranding as Finoverse, to reflect its global expansion and pivot to Web3. Replays of highlighted sessions from the event can be watched in the following channels:
LinkedIn: Hong Kong Fintech Week
InvestHK is the department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government responsible for attracting foreign direct investment. It has set up a dedicated fintech team in Hong Kong to attract the world’s top innovative fintech enterprises, start-up entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders to set up and scale their business via Hong Kong into Mainland China, Asia, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.hongkong-fintech.hk.