#HKfintechweek – The First Days in Hong Kong
I travel the world a lot. I typically spend at least two days of my life each week at an airport. Now I know this isn’t spectacular compared to other tallies but this isn’t a race to the bottom, or thirty thousand feet if you will. I fly economy, on economy airlines, and very economically if I might add, with the little single service toiletries already set in a plastic bag ready to be rifled through. Now you might be wondering why I’ve spent a hundred words describing the most quintessential first world problem? Well, that’s because when I received an innocuous little email from the Government of Hong Kong asking if a representative of Fintech Finance would like to be flown out to their Autonomous Region, business class, to a five star hotel, to report on the HK Fintech Week I couldn’t help but think I was being scammed. I fired off a reply saying I was interested expecting to either be asked to part with £500,000 or never hear from them again.
However, here I am, having broken my business class virginity, the champagne really doesn’t stop flowing, exploring the Hong Kong Fintech Week. I arrived on Sunday night ready for the next five days and the plan was a simple one. We were to check out a number of various fintech start ups, hubs and incubators for the first couple of days and then plunge into the typical conference madness that would be the Hong Kong Fintech Week.
The first two days were brilliant; I met my liaison, Cindy Yu from the Information Services Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government Office, or ISD. Cindy brought myself and the other journalist in the press cohort, Adrian Flores to the Cyberport. The Cyberport is self-described as a digital community, now that might sound impossible when its physical presence totals119, 000 square metres of office space. However the community that is incubated within its Bond villain styled complex (or campus as the say) really strive to embody that. From vertical, soilless farms to coin repositories that convert your cash into your digital wallet, the whole area screams a futuristic outlook. We were there however to see the Fintechs’. We spoke with nearly two dozens of them over the two days, that really stretched the imagination of what fintechs could do. From “Next Billion’’ a company that can help the millions of corner shops around the world actually achieve an effective stock check and inventory supply to “Socai” a start up that helps connect informal modes of transport (tuk tuks) to your digital route planner! These were just an example of the wide ranging fintechs that are embedded in the innovation lab.
After speaking with Charles Ng, the executive director of InvestHK the government wing behind the Hong Kong Fintech Week and driving investment in HK in general, we were really given an idea of the appetite that Hong Kong now has when it comes to fintech. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Eddie Yue had categorised the SAR’s regulators as being conservative in their approach even going as late as 2016 however after hearing from both Mr Yue and Ng about their plans for fintech in the near future, those self aspersions are truly a thing of the past.
Next onto the Hong Kong Fintech Week Conference, which would be the graduation for many of the fintechs we had met over the first two days and would be the culmination and celebration of the industry as a whole in Hong Kong.
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