Govt supports fintech development

October 31, 2022

Financial Secretary Paul Chan

The Hong Kong FinTech Week starts today. I promise you a truly rewarding experience on any day during this week, whether you are attending the in-house sessions or tuning in to the ambitious online programme.


After all, more than 250 high-powered speakers are taking part, presenting the latest intelligence, insights and fintech opportunities in Hong Kong, the Mainland, throughout Asia and around the world. They are joined by more than 500 exhibitors and over 30 delegations.


And with some 20,000 attendees and more than three million online views from 80 economies expected, Hong Kong FinTech Week is one of the world's largest fintech gatherings. An annual global village built on innovation, technology and boundless business promise.


Speaking of promise, four high-profile areas take centre stage at this year's event:

  • global governance
  • opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area
  • digital assets, from central bank digital currency to web3; and
  • emerging technology.


For the next few minutes, allow me to put a digital spotlight on Hong Kong. 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 startup. Many of them are founded by overseas talent, from Israel, France, the UK and many other places. And we ought to be proud that our fintech sector also gave birth to a number of unicorns.


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.


No less important, we are boosting our financial infrastructure and, thanks to our "one country, two systems" principle, strengthening connectivity with our country and the world at large.


The digital transformation of our financial services sector is a central priority.


The Monetary Authority's "Fintech 2025" strategy includes the building of a Commercial Data Interchange. It was launched last week, I am pleased to say.


That landmark development allows enterprises to share their data with banks through a central platform, enabling more convenient services and facilitating small to medium enterprises to gain access to financing services.


Our financial services sector embraces the Open Application Programming Interface. It boosts innovative financial services and customer experience. Service providers can access bank information on deposits, loans, insurance, investment and other products and services.


And we are offering subsidies to fintech companies and research bodies, allowing them to partner with financial institutions on the development of new fintech products.


Working with Mainland authorities, we are helping our fintech companies conduct pilot trials of cross-boundary initiatives and expand their businesses in the Mainland.


That includes building an online system to connect Hong Kong fintech companies to users, partners and investors in markets in the Mainland, Southeast Asia and beyond. It is expected to be launched before year's end.


Central bank digital currency, or CBDC, is fast emerging. The authority has begun preparatory work for issuing our very own CBDC.


It is also working with the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the Bank of Thailand, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates and the Bank for International Settlements' Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong, on a multiple CBDC bridge project. Enabling real-time, cross-border foreign exchange, payment-versus-payment transactions.


The co-operation with the PBOC also includes the testing of digital renminbi, or e-CNY, for use in cross-boundary payments in Hong Kong.


Earlier this morning, we issued a policy statement on the development of virtual assets (VAs) in Hong Kong. It covers our vision, regulations, thoughts on investor exposure and pilot projects to capture the technological benefits and financial innovation made possible by VAs.


We want to make our policy stance clear to global markets, to demonstrate our determination to explore financial innovation together with the global, virtual-assets community.


Meanwhile, a bill to establish a statutory licensing regime for VA service providers is now going through our Legislative Council.


The authority is also analysing feedback received on the regulatory approach towards stablecoins, and will ensure that it reflects international regulatory recommendations while responding to local circumstances.


We are exploring a number of pilot projects to test the technological benefits brought by VAs and their further applications in the financial markets. These projects, involve NFT (non-fungible token) issuance, green bond tokenisation, and e-HKD.


As an international financial centre, Hong Kong is open and inclusive towards the global community of innovators engaging in VA businesses. The Government, in conjunction with the financial regulators, are working towards providing a facilitating environment for promoting sustainable and responsible development of the VA sector in Hong Kong.


Later today, our financial regulators will also offer you an update on our latest regulatory thinking.


Talent is central to the develpoment of fintech. This Government attaches great importance to the development of fintech professionals.


That includes developing dedicated fintech programmes at numerous post-secondary institutions in Hong Kong, as well as establishing fintech qualifications for in-service financial practitioners.


Fintech qualifications for the banking sector were launched earlier this year. And practitioners gaining qualifications will get their tuition fee reimbursed.


We are also looking to extend these qualifications to other financial services areas.


In his first Policy Address, the Chief Executive set in motion a variety of initiatives to attract companies and professionals in industries of strategic importance to Hong Kong.


These high-priority sectors include life and health technology, artificial intelligence and data science, advanced manufacturing, new energy technology and, of course, financial technology.


I will chair the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises, looking at how we can best attract smart and ambitious companies from the Mainland and from all over the world. And we are establishing a US$4 billion Co-Investment Fund to invest in their businesses.


The Chief Secretary will lead a Talents Service Unit, targeting a world of innovative professionals to look to Hong Kong for their future.


Indeed, the Policy Address this year have rolled out aggressive schemes with favourable terms for attracting talent. Among them, a Top Talent Pass Scheme for those with more than HK$2.5 million in annual salary in the past year; or graduates, with or without work experience, from the top 100 universities in the world - in fact around 160 because there are different lists - may be issued a pass for them to come to Hong Kong to explore the vast opportunities here. Even if they have not secured a job offer yet.


What is more, to facilitate talent's long-term development in Hong Kong, we will refund to them certain stamp duties that they have paid for the purchase of their first residential property, after they have become permanent residents of Hong Kong. A Talents Service Unit, as well as dedicated teams in our economic and trade offices in the Mainland and overseas, will be there to serve you as a one-stop shop.


My thanks to the organisers of FinTech Week: Invest Hong Kong and the Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau, as well as the Monetary Authority, the Securities & Futures Commission and the Insurance Authority.


I am grateful, as well, to all the sponsors involved in ensuring the certain success of this seventh edition of Hong Kong FinTech Week.


This is a memorable moment for Hong Kong. In a great many ways, we are telling the world that we are back. Back in business, back in the business, and pleasure, of welcoming you to Hong Kong.


And alongside FinTech Week, we are hosting a three-day, Global Financial Leaders' Investment Summit this week.


Then there is the Sevens, beginning this Friday at Hong Kong Stadium. Yes, after a three-year absence, the Hong Kong Sevens is back, too. A long weekend of high-octane sport and flamboyant entertainment. And that is just in the stands.


Financial Secretary Paul Chan gave this video speech at the Hong Kong FinTech Week 2022 on October 31.

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