Hong Kong Fintech Week 2017 kicked off last Monday and as expected, entrepreneurs; venture capitalists; financiers; and fintech pros from around the globe came to join in the event’s various workshops and talks.
Juwan Lee, CEO and Founder of Hong Kong Fintech Week program partner, NexChange, welcomed the crowd on day one and passed the mic on to James Lau, Hong Kong’s Secretary of Financial Services and Treasury. Lau, speaking on behalf of the Hong Kong government, reiterated the former colony’s continuous support for fintech, adding that blockchain technology is very much “welcome” and that ICOs will be looked at carefully “to make sure that we do not stifle useful Fintech innovation.”
The blockchain-centric first day also saw HKMA Chief Fintech Officer Nelson Chow, who hinted at a “significant” announcement due out Wednesday, as well as former CFTC Commissioner and current NexChange Advisor Bart Chilton, who gave a lively talk about regulations.
Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton
The big names don’t end there, though; Dianrong CEO Soul Htite also spoke at the event, articulating how his company uses big data and blockchain to help China’s SMEs gain access to capital, while PWC’s Henri Arslanian and Standard Chartered Bank’s James Dolphin talked about the significance of ICO best practices and the importance of software engineering, respectively.
Dianrong CEO Soul Htite
For day two, the event switched gears a little to tackle wealth-and insurtech under the context of blockchain. The keynote speaker of the day was Chris Wei, Global Chairman of Aviva Digital. Wei touched on the issues between insurance companies’ legacy systems and their need to innovate, before dismantling the age-old adage that “insurance is sold, not bought.” He says that it should be the other way around, and that with the help of data – and listening to customers – insurance companies should be able to do a Zhong An and make it easier for clients to buy their products.
Returning to the issue of legacy systems, Annette King, Co-Founder of Galileo Platforms, agreed with Chris Wei’s point about their agility issues and added that “there’s a need to remove friction for the customer.” She says blockchain can help insurance firms regain agility.
Speaking of blockchain, Rudi Spaan, President and CEO of AIG Hong Kong, called it a “wondercure” at the “Future of Insurtech” panel. The panel, which featured delegates from Aegon Asia and Sun Life Hong Kong, all agreed that acquisitions aren’t the way for insurers to innovate. Rather, they should stick to investing in order to remain nimble.
The afternoon wealthtech sessions meanwhile saw Facebook’s Andy Hsu, PWC China’s James Chang, and InvestHK’s Stephen Philips. Hsu, pointing to China's 2.5 billion unbanked citizens, elaborated on the opportunities he sees for Facebook while Chang expanded on how the historically innovation-deficient wealth management sector is starting to change. Philips talked about the Hong Kong-UK Fintech Bridge, detailing the agreement’s three pillars and what they mean.
Day three was basically regulator day at Hong Kong Fintech Week, starting with Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Chief Executive Norman Chan who kicked off the proceedings by announcing a game-changing fintech cross-border agreement between the HKMA and Singapore’s MAS. He followed this up with another big announcement: a new fintech development agreement between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
The panels that followed revolved around regulations and featured HKMA Senior Executive Director Howard Lee, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Head of Innovate Anne Wallace, Former CFTC Commissioner and current NexChange Adviser Bart Chilton, MAS Head of Fintech Centre Development Department Roy Teo, and Securities and Futures Commission CEO Ashley Alder.
Artificial intelligence was the name of the game during the event’s last two days, tackling AI’s applications from robo-advisory to P2P lending. Delegates from Ant Financial, Dianrong, Sentient Technologies and PwC were among those that shared their thoughts.