Government to release supportive fintech policy in near future, says Financial Secretary

John Tsang said the government will soon release financial technology policy in support of locally-based start-ups

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 November, 2015, 6:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 06 November, 2015, 10:16am

The budding financial technology start-up community in Hong Kong received a boost on Wednesday, when Financial Secretary John Tsang said the government Steering Group on Financial Technologies is set to release its recommended set of policies for fostering Hong Kong as a financial technology hub in a few months.

The policies have been expected ever since Tsang announced the setup of the government steering group in March as part of the 2016 fiscal budget.

Tsang was speaking at the FinTech Innovation Lab event organised by strategy consulting confirm Accenture on Wednesday.

Compared to the US, where there are multiple overlapping state and federal regulations, Hong Kong is seen by new technology companies as more benign in terms of regulations on business.

There are now some 1500 start-ups operating in the city. They have collectively attracted hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars worth of new investment into the city.

Many young companies are drawn to Hong Kong for its proximity to major Chinese and international financial institutions, low taxes a relatively light regulatory burden.

In spite of these advantages, the degree of digitisation of Hong Kong’s digital community lags behind China.

Paul Chow, chairman of Cyberport, has called for the government to simplify regulations and provide a “conducive regulatory environment” to nurture the new businesses. Start-ups have attracted US$26.5 million of investments in the city, according to Chow, who also spoke at the FinTech Innovation Lab. He believes investment inflows will continue to improve if Hong Kong unveils a supportive regulatory backdrop.

Meanwhile, Tsang reiterated his commitment to help foster the city as hub for financial technology.

“If the startups take off, it will be music to my ears,” Tsang said, “Hong Kong will find its place as a leading fintech centre.”

The forum featured several companies showcasing new financial technologies.

Kevin Mak, a former trader at Hong Kong-based hedge fund Nezu Asia and now director of Ironfly Technologies, pitched a real-time data visualisation tools for trading that he says will enable financial institutions to lower their head count on trading floors.

Representatives of Uniken and Bitspark, two other start-ups featured Tuesday, said they are working on services that will disrupt established practises in financial services, such as wiring payments and identity authentication, which have largely stayed unchanged over the decades, since the 1970s.