Li Ka-shing shows strong backing for Hong Kong’s fintech sector with MioTech funding

Horizons Ventures, Li’s private investment arm, leads US$7m initial funding round for MioTech, a provider of artificial intelligence to asset management firms

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 October, 2017, 1:46pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 October, 2017, 7:19am

Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, has given his strong backing to the city’s fast-growing financial technology start-up sector by investing in MioTech, a specialist provider of artificial intelligence (AI) for investors.

Horizons Ventures, Li’s private investment arm, led a US$7 million Series A funding round for MioTech, one of just a few Chinese tech companies in the firm’s portfolio.

The deal represents a major pivot for Horizons after it had largely focused on high-profile tech investments overseas, especially in the United States and Israel.

“We have invested in seven to eight fintech companies globally, including banks, insurance tech and asset management enterprises,” said a Horizons Ventures spokeswoman.

Some of Li’s highest-profile investments have been made through his namesake charitable foundation and later, via Horizons Ventures. These include social network behemoth Facebook, music-streaming service Spotify, augmented reality giant Meta and video gaming systems maker Razer.

With its funding of MioTech, Horizons Ventures has placed a strong bet on “one of the few start-ups in Hong Kong with a proven fintech product that can be successfully rolled out on the mainland and the rest of the Asia-Pacific”, company co-founder and chief executive Jason Tu Jianyu told the South China Morning Post.

Founded in June last year, MioTech provides an AI-powered investment management platform for asset managers via online subscription.

The start-up, which has its technology development centre in Shanghai, plans to use the proceeds to expand its operations on the mainland and in Singapore by the first quarter of next year.

The problem with many financial institutions, is that they still store and process market data through Excel spreadsheet and other outdated systems
MioTech co-founder and chief executive Jason Tu Jianyu

In July, MioTech started work with Hong Kong wealth management firm Silverhorn Investment Advisors on a solution that includes a built-in messaging platform for investors.

Paul Haswell, a partner at international law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “Hong Kong fintech start-ups have a unique view on how we spend and invest money, and this tells in their innovations.”

MioTech’s US-based competition, such as Addepar and Kensho, provide similar tools to Wall Street firms, helping the affluent know where to invest their money.

Tu said "every asset manager must understand their current portfolio and monitor the risks associated with it, as well as look for new investment opportunities."

“The problem with many financial institutions, however, is that they still store and process market data through Excel spreadsheet and other outdated systems," he added.

MioTech aggregates and analyses a wide spectrum of data sources, including market price, transactions, news, events, earnings releases, deal information, commentaries and social media. These are integrated into a graph database for asset managers to get more in-depth insights about investment opportunities, Tu said.

Other investors in MioTech include Li Zhiguo, the chief executive at Hangzhou-based mobile app developer Wacai, and Simon Loong Pui-chi, co-founder and chief executive of Hong Kong internet finance start-up WeLab.

CB Insights, the venture capital database service, has forecast global fintech funding this year to reach a record high, after 496 deals raised US$8 billion in the six months to June 30.