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Photo: (L-R) Mr. Chen Liming, Chairman of IBM; Dr. Lee George Lam, Chairman of Cyberport; Ir Allen Yeung, JP, Government Chief Information Officer and Mr. Eric Yeung, President of Smart City Consortium/ Credit: Cyberport

Photo: (L-R) Mr. Chen Liming, Chairman of IBM; Dr. Lee George Lam, Chairman of Cyberport; Ir Allen Yeung, JP, Government Chief Information Officer and Mr. Eric Yeung, President of Smart City Consortium/ Credit: Cyberport

New alliance launched in Hong Kong to help support local FinTech startups

On January 24, a new alliance was launched in Hong Kong to help support local start-ups in the financial technology (FinTech) sector. The CSI Alliance has Cyberport, the Smart City Consortium (SCC) and IBM China/Hong Kong Ltd as its core members. It aims to foster collaboration between technology, academic and commercial stakeholders to address issues faced by FinTech start-ups and help accelerate their growth.

Cyberport is a digital startup hub with 1000 digital tech companies, including nearly 250 FinTech companies. It provides full-range entrepreneurial support and value-added services for start-ups and is managed by Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited, which is wholly owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government.

The SCC comprises a group of professionals from different corporations and organisations which aims to provide opinions and suggestions to the Government for formulating related policies and standards in the development of Hong Kong as a world-class smart city.

Research by InvestHK, the department of the Hong Kong SAR Government responsible for Foreign Direct Investment, shows that Hong Kong's start-up ecosystem has been expanding rapidly, with the number of companies increasing 24% and staff by 41% year-on-year. However, the founders of the CSI Alliance feel more can be done to support Hong Kong fledgling innovators, particularly in the financial sector.

Cyberport will leverage its strong network of financial services partners to reinforce its strategic role to connect digital tech start-ups with enterprises to accelerate adoption, said Dr. Lee George Lam, Chairman of Cyberport.

Under IBM's Global Entrepreneur Program (GEP), start-ups can receive credit of up to US$120,000 for instant access to cloud-based tools and infrastructure needed to quickly launch their businesses and focus on coding, building, scaling and bringing innovations to market. It also connects them into IBM's enterprise client base, many of whom look to the start-up community for new approaches to industry challenges.

Deep Invest Technology Limited and Wesurance are Cyberport community companies and both IBM GEP recipients. Deep Invest's platform helps finance professionals make smarter investment decision through deep learning-based sentiment analyses and scoring of millions of stock articles. Wesurance aims to deliver a hassle-free insurance purchase and claims experience through its app, a first-of-its-kind mobile solution leveraging eKYC (Know Your Customer) and AI (artificial intelligence).

Mr. Eric Yeung, President of the Smart City Consortium, said, “Fostering Hong Kong innovation and sustainable economic require collaboration and among different stakeholders to create the right ecosystem. One of the critical functions of the CSI Alliance is therefore to facilitate the exchange of ideas, including industry and solution expertise, advice and views to assist start-ups their growth. That collaboration extends to government, which has a key role to play in formulating related policies and standards."

SCC has developed an international business matching platform under the theme of Smart City, called LinkedSmart , jointly with Smart City Development Alliance [SCDA] in mainland China,. Along with the Alliance, it can provide further support to the start-ups when they are ready to go for market or looking for investors. These relationships will be harnessed within the new alliance.

FinTech and Hong Kong’s Smart City Blueprint

FinTech was identified as one of the key areas to generate momentum for Hong Kong’s economic development, under the ‘Smart Economy’ area in the city’s Smart City Blueprint released last December.

Speaking at the launch, Ir. Allen Yeung, JP, Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) also pointed out FinTech initiatives will also have an impact in the ‘Smart Living’ area of the Blueprint, for instance through mobile payment solutions bringing greater convenience to citizens.

In October 2017, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced the launch of 7 initiatives to spur the development of smart banking. Since the establishment of the Regulation of Stored Value Facilities (SVF), HKMA has already issued 13 licences.  Three licenced banks are also offering SVF products.  During the past year, they started offering a number of mobile payment solutions to the customers. 

To further facilitate P2P payments, HKMA will launch the Faster Payment System (FPS) by September 2018, providing a round-the-clock real-time payment platform.  It will allow banks and SVF service providers to offer their customers and merchants a faster, more convenient and comprehensive payment and transfer services.

At the moment, different SVF service providers have their own QR code standards.  To facilitate further development of mobile payment, HKMA is leading a working group to explore a common QR code standard.  The new standard will enable merchants to use one single QR code to accept payments from various service providers.

The GCIO also said that the eID initiative is an important element to foster the development of FinTech in Hong Kong. All Hong Kong residents will be provided with an eID by 2020.  The eID can ensure secure access to online transactions and services, including day-to-day and mobile financial transactions, provided by public and private organisations, using a single digital identity and authentication.   

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