16 Sep | News

SCMP: Hong Kong fintech ecosystem still strong, given capital, talent and links to Greater Bay Area, says new FTAHK chairman

Hong Kong has access to investment, a pool of talent and government subsidies, which make it an attractive place for business, the new chairman of the Fintech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK) said in an interview with the Post.

“I think the [fintech] ecosystem in Hong Kong is very strong,” said Neil Tan, the newly appointed chairman, who is also CEO of blockchain start-up Neptune Digital. “There’s no question that there are challenges, but that’s universal.”

Stringent border control and quarantine measures have led to more than 113,000 residents leaving Hong Kong in the 12 months to the end of June, according to government data.

Meanwhile, one in five global fund management companies operating in the city are offering hardship allowances to attract overseas talent to the city, according to a July survey by the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association.

However, Tan is confident “people are still staying put” and not giving up on the financial hub.

“[The current situation] is simply a bump in the road, but Hong Kong is not going to stop,” Tan said.

Through webinars and events, FTAHK aims to help members develop relationships with other associations, institutions and organisations within the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and the Asia-Pacific region.

“People are really hungry to meet other people,” Tan said. “It could be looking for different clients, different vendors, [or] for new ideas.” The organisation’s new board aims to strengthen its role as a “super connecter” within Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem, he added.

Accelerator programmes in the city have helped start-ups receive funding, access resources and create scale in the GBA, said Tan.

The availability of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) offers an alternative means of funding for start-ups, even though adoption of the mechanism has been slow this year.

The city’s various cross-border connect schemes, such as the Stock Connect and ETF Connect, and its access to nearly 90 million people in the GBA, open up numerous revenue opportunities, said Tan.

“Hong Kong is one of the region’s largest capital markets and a global financial centre,” he said. “Plus it enjoys unique connectivity and relationship with mainland China.”

Earlier this month, Hong Kong and Shenzhen government bodies announced a slew of incentives for financial firms to set up in Qianhai, as the two cities seek to draw venture capital to the special economic zone.

Managers of newly registered funds and venture capital firms approved for setting up in the city are some of the beneficiaries of the three-year scheme that can receive grants as high as 5 million yuan (US$718,000).

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