Invest Hong Kong has announced a significant expansion of its annual Hong Kong Fintech Week, moving to a bigger venue to accommodate a greater variety of programme, business events, exhibitors and attendees, after the success of the 2018 edition.
Hong Kong Fintech Week 2019 will be held at the AsiaWorld-Expo close to Hong Kong International Airport to welcome more worldwide participants, while at the same time only a 30-minute train or taxi ride to the heart of this international financial centre. Now in its fourth year, the event will run from 4 to 8 November 2019.
“The new location reflects the dramatic growth of Hong Kong Fintech Week. At last year’s Hong Kong Fintech Week, we had more than 8,000 attendees and had a much bigger room to grow to accommodate the increasing number of activities and exhibitors,” said Charles Ng, Associate Director-General of Investment Promotion at InvestHK. “We now have the chance to grow the event further. And, with the airport expansion and the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge on Lantau, we will show the participants the “Double Gateway” role of Hong Kong.”
It is also a good timing. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced on 27 March the award of three virtual banking licences to Livi VB Limited, SC Digital Solutions Limited and ZhongAn Virtual Finance Limited. These new virtual banks are expected to take 6-9 months to launch their initial banking services, meaning that the Hong Kong Fintech Week in early November is well timed for them to showcase their services. By then, it’s likely that the HKMA will have issued more such licenses given that it said it’s processing five more applications.
Also this year, the Open Application Programming Interface (API) Framework for the Hong Kong banking sector has taken effect. The Open APIs involve around 130 sets of information covering all financial data and important information. Together with over 650 new datasets which will be released in 2019 by other government bureaux and departments, these encourage more parties to provide innovative and integrated solutions.
The new developments this year follow last year’s launch of the Faster Payment System, the Hong Kong Common QR Code and trade finance blockchain, all of which contribute towards Hong Kong’s appeal as a launchpad for fintech companies in Asia.
InvestHK’s recent study found that there are over 550 fintech companies in Hong Kong, with 52% having founders from overseas – the remainder are from Hong Kong or Mainland China. The companies see Hong Kong as a regional base for business expansion, both globally (61%) and in Greater China (28%).
“Business in Hong Kong is market-driven. The vibrant ecosystem grows organically and we welcome worldwide fintech companies to join us,” Charles Ng said. “The fintech ecosystem here is maturing, with over half (51%) the fintech companies in the study are 3-4 years old at least.”
More broadly, Hong Kong continues to attract and retain leading overseas and Mainland companies, as well as entrepreneurs, from around the globe. According to the latest joint survey conducted by InvestHK and the Census and Statistics Department, the number of overseas and Mainland companies setting up business in Hong Kong in 2018 rose 6.4% year-on-year to 8,754. Noteworthy too was that the number of overseas and Mainland companies using Hong Kong as their regional headquarters rose 8.3% to 1,530.
All this helps explain the appeal of Hong Kong Fintech Week, which is so effective at connecting the East and the West. In 2018, it had a record number of attendees from more than 50 economies. Over 260 speakers shared their vision, including top executives from Ant Financial, Tencent, Xiaomi, WeBank, WeSure, Ping An, Lufax, Yunfeng, ZhongAn Insurance, PayPal, Grab Financial, Revolut, Starling Bank, Tinkoff Bank, AMTD Group, Standard Chartered and Citi. There were over 100 exhibitors, 60 start-ups and 1,000-plus business matching meetings, plus the innovation lab tours and the involvement of universities.
Regulators and companies also shared breaking announcements which facilitate the fintech development. Last year’s cross-border event to Shenzhen even looked closely at the collaboration between Hong Kong and the other cities in the Greater Bay Area.