Hong Kong remains vigilant against risks of virtual assets even as fintech investments more than double, financial minister says

  • Investments in Hong Kong’s fintech industry more than doubled last year to US$550 million, says financial secretary
  • Hong Kong fintech investments “much higher” than Singapore, Paul Chan says
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 10:38am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 November, 2018, 10:38am

Investment in Hong Kong’s fintech industry more than doubled last year to US$550 million, far surpassing Singapore, a testament to the joint efforts of successive governments and regulators to promote the sector, according to Hong Kong financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

The Greater Bay Area will inject new momentum and provide a bigger market for Hong Kong’s fintech development, while the opening of the high-speed rail link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will foster closer collaboration between the region’s cities and create more convenience, Chan said in a speech at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China.

But even as it promotes financial innovation, Hong Kong will adopt a number of new measures to strengthen protection of investors in virtual assets or funds, he said.

“The government must simultaneously act the role of an observer and gatekeeper,” Chan said in his speech, delivered in Mandarin. “We are very vigilant over the risks that virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies may pose to investors or the potential that criminals may use them for illegal means.”

Chan also recapped a number of recent initiatives, including the launch of Hong Kong version of e-wallets by Alipay and WeChat Pay, and the introduction of a common two-dimensional QR code to accept payments from different e-wallets.

Hong Kong has traditionally competed with Singapore to be Asia’s financial centre, with the race extending in recent years to attracting fintech and blockchain investments. Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission recently unveiled a new set of rules governing cryptocurrencies, which included a potential route for the licensing of digital asset exchanges for the first time.