UK Fintech Awards select trading simulator, artwork registry as competition winners

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2016, 10:00am

A Hong Kong-based trading simulator and a mainland Chinese security company’s project using the distributed ledger technology blockchain to register and trade artworks have won a UK government competition to promote international financial technology (fintech) collaboration.

EquitySim and Shenzhen-listed security card manufacturer Hengbao were winners of the UK Fintech Awards 2016, presented by the Department for International Trade, formerly UK Trade and Investment.

“Something we want to support on a global scale is driving markets to be more innovative. Hong Kong and the UK, because of their natural status as fintech hubs, can support and develop each other,” said Andy Burwell, director of inward investment for the Department of International Trade in Hong Kong.

Burwell said the UK’s existing links with Hong Kong, such as the large number of British corporations in the city, make it possible for a stronger fintech relationship as technologies can be applied between the two locations.

The two winners will receive a five-day trip to the UK, training on information technology and tickets to Fintech Connect Live in London.

EquitySim, which moved its head office to Hong Kong three months ago, gives aspiring traders US$100 million to invest in its simulator and asks for a one-line explanation on why they made each trade. Their investments are then tracked and assessed.

Hong Kong and the UK, because of their natural status as fintech hubs, can support and develop each other
Andy Burwell, UK Department of International Trade in Hong Kong

The company, which was co-founded by Justin Ling, sells business schools subscriptions to the simulator to give students an opportunity to build a trading track record before they graduate and also to act as a way for lecturers to assess a student’s performance.

EquitySim also works with recruiters representing 300 financial institutions to help them find candidates with a feel for the market. Ling said the company, which has helped 150 people find jobs in eight months, charges a placement fee for every person hired through EquitySim.

“Coming from a great school and having great grades is great, and that indicates that you’re a smart person. But it’s the actual interactions and real life experience with the markets that obviously helps you excel,” Ling said.

James McKeogh, advisory partner at KPMG in Hong Kong and a judge for the competition, said the two winners showed the ability to combine ideas across industries into new products, which he views as being the definition of innovation.

“The idea of being able to show your capabilities through gamification and then connecting that with the ability to sell yourself through recruitment... it’s getting towards a bit of an Uber moment because it’s connecting two disparate areas,” McKeogh said.

Ling started trading stocks when he was 14-years-old and was successful enough to pay his way through university.

While studying at Simon Fraser University in Canada, Ling managed US$5 million of the university’s endowment, for which he made a 12 per cent gain in 2013.

Hengbao’s blockchain-based artwork registration and trading platform allows artists to register their works on the blockchain, which stores records across a decentralised network and is therefore almost impossible to cheat, according to Xiao Zhang, Hengbao Innovation Research Institute research and development engineer.

When an artist sells their work, they can transfer ownership to the new owners on the blockchain, giving a full ownership history and allowing others to authenticate the art.

The company will charge artists to register their work and will charge a commission of between 1 to 5 per cent for artwork sold using their services, Zhang said.

Zhang said the company plans to develop its relationships with the art world in the UK.

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