Jim Rogers funded new fintech bank ITF to set up headquarters in Hong Kong

Bank aims to work with city’s fintech companies to develop products and services in a boost to Monetary Authority’s ‘smart banking’ push

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 October, 2017, 5:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 4:14pm

ITF, a new fintech bank that veteran US investor Jim Rogers has invested in, will set up its headquarters in Hong Kong and aims to start operating next year, in a move that suggests the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s efforts to promote technology development in the sector have attracted new comers to the city.

The bank will provide online and mobile banking and financial services and aims to work with fintech companies in the city to develop products and services in banking, wealth management and other financial services.

ITF has been set up by Lim Hui Jie, who was chief executive of the Australia-listed technology company Digimatic Group until March.

“We chose Hong Kong as our headquarters as it is close to the largest market in the world – China,” Lim said at company’s launch in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

“We aim to be an international fintech company and Hong Kong has the regulatory and market conditions to help us achieve our goal as Hong Kong is a very international market. The recent announcement by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority introducing a number of initiatives to promote fintech is very encouraging,” he said.

Lim said ITF would also focus on Singapore to tap the Southeast Asian market, and had applied for licences in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Rogers, the co-founder of Quantum Group of Funds, as well as George Lam, the chairman of Cyberport Management Hong Kong, are among investors in the bank. Rogers said he invested in ITF because fintech will be the future of banking. “The traditional banking branch will disappear. Physical cash will disappear. If you go to China, everybody uses their mobile phone to pay. The rest of the world will follow the same trend.”

The bank reached an agreement in August to acquire 70 per cent of the economic rights of an international bank in Vanuatu, which is still subject to regulatory approval. It has also established correspondent banking relationships with Bank of Communications Shanghai and Bank of Communications Hong Kong.

ITF aims to launch the beta version of its product in the third quarter of 2018.

The Monetary Authority last month announced seven initiatives that it said would open up “a new era of smart banking” in the city.

“The upgrading of our banking system to a new and higher level of smart banking is not just something nice to have, but a must,” said Norman Chan Tak-lam, the Monetary Authority’s chief executive.

The initiatives announced by Chan include a repackaging of the faster payments system, which will be launched next year, opening up the authority’s fintech supervisory sandbox to technology firms and the creation of a new policy around opening up banks’ application programming interfaces to technology players.