Hong Kong’s fintech push extended to brokers, insurers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 9:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 11:03pm

Both the securities watchdog and insurance regulator in Hong Kong have introduced measures to encourage brokerage firms and insurance companies to promote the use of fintech among their clients as part of a wider Hong Kong government efforts to gear up the city to compete with overseas rival such as Singapore.

Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung told the Post on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday that both the Securities and Futures Commission as well as the Office of Commissioner of Insurance have introduced regulatory measures similar to the regulatory sandbox introduced by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority earlier this month. The HKMA sandbox allows banks to introduce a pilot scheme to introduce new technology for banking services for selective clients without the need to get full regulatory approval.

Some start-up companies said the sandbox was not ideal as their clients are not just banks, so they urged the securities and insurance regulators to make the same move.

“Both the SFC and Office of Insurance Commissioner allow brokers and insurance companies to explore and experiment on new fintech policies. They just don’t call these measures a sandbox. The two regulators have done their duty to promote fintech but they didn’t announce it in public. I believe they should also explain more to the public,” Chan said.

Chan said the government has asked HKMA, SFC and the insurance regulator to work closely together to promote fintech so that start-ups introducing new technology across different industries should have no problems dealing with the three regulators.

Fintech is new to all markets. We are all trying to encourage our financial firms to develop fintech
Chan Ka-keung, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury

On Wednesday Chan announced that Invest Hong Kong would host the first Fintech Week in Hong Kong from November 7 -11. A wide range of start-ups, large technology firms, fund managers and venture capital investors from overseas and the mainland will be invited to Hong Kong for the seminars and forums.

“This is to show the world we are a fintech hub, not just for start-ups, but we want to attract both large and small innovative companies and investors to gather in Hong Kong,” he said.

“Hong Kong is a platform for innovative mainland firms to go global while international technology firms can use [the city] as a gateway to enter into the mainland market.”

Chan disagreed with some critics who have said Hong Kong is lagging behind Singapore in developing fintech.

“Fintech is new to all markets. We are all trying to encourage our financial firms to develop fintech. I don’t think we are slower than any other markets,” he said. “It is the most natural move under the ‘new economic order’, where new technology has created an open market ecosystem, new business models, and tremendous opportunities for startup companies.”

However, Chan declined to comment whether Hong Kong need a new third board with lower entry requirements to attract start-ups to list in the city.

Hong Kong has fewer start-ups listing here because the firms say the main board and Growth Enterprise Market requirements are too high.