FinTech is SAR's cup of tea: Expert

Updated: 2016-05-26 08:47

By Deng Yanzi in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong is "the best place in the region" to develop financial technology (FinTech), with the city's traditional forte in the financial sector, says an industry insider.

"We have here a huge international pool of talents involved in the financial services industry, with nearly 90 international banks present in Hong Kong," Anthony Sar, chief executive and co-founder of FinTech conference Finnovasia, told China Daily.

The long-established financial sector creates plenty of opportunities for Hong Kong companies to start their FinTech business and offer their products to both the corporate sector and customers, as well as the Chinese mainland and elsewhere in Asia, he said.

The number of FinTech startups in the SAR rose to 86 by the end of 2015, compared to 74 in the previous year, according to government investment promotion agency InvestHK.

WeLab - an online lender operating both in Hong Kong and on the mainland - is among the home-grown success stories in the city's emerging FinTech landscape. Founded in 2013, WeLab raised $160 million in its latest round of funding in January - an amount considered to be a benchmark figure for local startups.

FinTech is SAR's cup of tea: Expert

FinTech has been a major sector in the SAR government's push for innovation and technology, with the establishment of the Steering Group on Financial Technologies last year, chaired by Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Ceajer Chan Ka-keung, to develop Hong Kong into a FinTech hub.

Some traditional banks have also taken the initiative to get involved in the FinTech space, with DBS and Standard Chartered having launched their accelerators in Hong Kong last year for FinTech startups to boost innovation in the sector.

As FinTech startups emerged in recent years, they were often portrayed as disruptors as far as banks are concerned. But, big banks remain standing today as the FinTech sector makes rapid strides.

"The truth is the traditional financial industry will never be the same as before. Let's face it. And everyone in the financial industry understands that more or less," Sar said.

Faced with innovations from small, agile startups, the traditional financial institutes are "desperate" to keep up with the developments in the sector, he said.

With Finnovasia, Sar aims to convene entrepreneurs, bankers, investors and regulators in Hong Kong at the event on May 30 to explore the future of FinTech in Asia.

Covering the hottest issues, including blockchain applications and regulations, the conference hopes to bridge the gaps among all stakeholders.

"There's a lot of demand from the corporate side to understand what is going on in the sector, and there's an increasing number of startups working on FinTech innovations. Our goal is to bring them together," Sar said.

(HK Edition 05/26/2016 page11)