A group of technology companies and banking industry players has launched a new association for ‘fintech’ in Hong Kong, as the city vies with other financial centres to become a hub for innovation.
‘We’re on the doorstep of Asia, and China in particular,’ industry veteran Matt Dooley, who sits on the board of the new FinTech Association of Hong Kong, told Citywire Asia. ‘It’s 23 minutes to Shenzhen, you’ve got international law in Hong Kong, and you’ve got a huge talent pool that has a lot of know-how on how to deal in China.’
Several of the larger Chinese technology companies, including the so-called ‘BATs’ – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – have set up in Hong Kong, and are working on payment systems and other fintech products, which has helped to develop an ecosystem.
‘Hong Kong is becoming a springboard for fintech from China into the rest of Asia, and vice versa,’ Dooley said. ‘A lot of US and European and Asian companies have realised the potential of the mobile and digital behaviour of China, and they’re trying to use Hong Kong as a springboard into China.’
The association has identified blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data among its main areas of focus, and intends to advocate on behalf of emerging technology players, as well as providing a forum for the wider industry.
Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney have also been trying to build themselves into hubs for financial technology. In the former, the Monetary Authority of Singapore has been relaxing its usually strict regulations to try to encourage the industry, and to support emerging companies.
‘Hong Kong is less about talking and more about action,’ Dooley said. ‘What Hong Kong’s always been about is industry-led, government supported. Whereas a lot of other countries, including Singapore, Korea, China, have been government-led, industry supported.’