A speaker at last year's FinTech conference.
A speaker at last year's FinTech conference.

Hong Kong’s upcoming FinTech Week combines the strength of Asia’s financial capital and China’s Silicon Valley to create the world’s first cross-border financial technology showcase.

Expected to attract more than 8,000 attendees from 50 countries and 200 of the world’s top fintech founders and CEOs, investors, regulators and academics, the event will run from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, before shifting to Shenzhen on Nov. 2.

According to Accenture analysis, Hong Kong’s fintech investment more than doubled in 2017 to US$546 million, while globally, investment in fintech reached a record high of US$27.4 billion.

Deloitte has ranked Hong Kong fifth in the world among fintech centres, behind London, Singapore, New York and Silicon Valley, but the city’s impressive business culture, high-tech infrastructure, government support and funding, along with a world-class talent pool, are proving attractive to fintechs.

A panel discussion at last year’s FinTech conference.

Additionally, the event spotlights the huge potential of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Consisting of nine cities and two special administrative regions and with a population of 70 million, the Greater Bay Area presents a huge market, considerable talent as well as complementary advantages of other cities, which will fuel the city’s fintech development.

“This is the third year that we are co-organizing Hong Kong Fintech Week with InvestHK and we are glad to see that it is expanding into Shenzhen,” said Nelson Chow, chief fintech officer at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Speaking to fintechnews, Chow said: “We believe that this cross-border event will become a powerful conduit to foster development and application of fintech in the Greater Bay Area, and at the same time strengthen Hong Kong’s role as a springboard for mainland fintech firms to ‘Go global,’ and for global fintech firms to enter the mainland market.”

Fintechs have attracted some of the world’s biggest billionaires, including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg.

Suitably adding some star power to the cavalcade of Fintech Week’s 200-plus speakers is none other than Oleg Tinkov, Russia’s so-called “Richard Branson.”

Networking at last year’s FinTech conference.

Founder of the Tinkoff Bank — one of the most profitable and largest banks in the world — it garnered ‘Bank of the Year’ status from Financial Times Banker magazine in 2017.

The second biggest credit card issuer in Russia, the bank has over seven million customers and 18,000 employees, and was founded in 2006. The bank has zero branches and operates fully digital.

Also slated to speak is Eric Jing, CEO of the most valuable fintech company in the world — Ant Financial. Part of Jack Ma’s successful Alibaba Group, the firm is now valued at US$150 billion, while its payments arm, Alipay, has more than 500 million customers.

“Technology is leading the world into a new era, bringing with it a dramatic shift in the global economy,” said Carrie Lam, Hong Kong government CEO, at the official kick-off for Fintech Week last month.

“We can now make payments through a wide array of electronic means, with or without a physical card. We can remit money across the globe with a tap of our fingers, with the intended recipients getting the cash almost instantly.”

The audience listens to a panel discussion at last year’s FinTech conference.

The Hong Kong government has targeted fintech as a key technology area to focus on and invest in, and Lam echoed that desire.

“Fintech is a natural evolution for Hong Kong, one of the world’s leading international financial centres and among the world’s most competitive economies. We are blessed with a strategic location and growing economic integration with mainland China. We also have a highly enabling and efficient information and communications technology sector, a vigorous financial regulatory framework and the rule of law.

“And let’s not forget our deep pool of talent in financial and professional services as well as in our research expertise and our tertiary institutions,” said Lam.

“Last year, the Chinese University of Hong Kong introduced a new, four-year undergraduate programme in fintech. And just a few months ago, the University of Hong Kong launched Asia’s first fintech open online course, with the support of Australia’s University of New South Wales and a variety of industry leaders.”

The region is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s top fintech hubs, said Lam, adding that Hong Kong has now become the first choice for fintech investors in East Asia.

“Fintech investment here has spiraled in recent years, from about US$108 million in 2015 to US$216 million in 2016, and some US$546 million last year,” said Lam.

A panel discussion at last year’s FinTech conference.

The local government has also launched a “Talent List,” to attract professionals from around the world. The list focuses on 11 professions and they include specialists in fintech, cyber-security and innovation and technology.

“We welcome them all with open arms,” said Lam, “for we believe that a vibrant mix of local, mainland and overseas talents can keep our fintech ecology connected to the latest ideas and developments of the global landscape and be most conducive to having the next big fintech innovations right here in Hong Kong.”

Other FinTech Week highlights:

• The main conference will be held across four stages simultaneously, with workshops, demos and pitches also taking place. Key themes include virtual banking, AI, blockchain, trade finance, financial inclusion and RegTech.

• The Expo will present 100 exhibitors — everything from startups to globals giants of the financial and fintech worlds.

• The Startup Zone will bring together 40 vibrant and exciting companies from across the world, showcasing and pitching their companies and ideas.

• To boost investment opportunities and collaboration, business matching will be made easy via a mobile and desktop app, allowing users to plan and schedule meetings.

• The Practitioner Speaker Series will feature speakers from the financial services industry giving talks to university students about important industry facts and the skill sets required in developing a career in financial services.

For more information www.fintechweek.hk