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HKUST Releases Regtech Study


The HKUST Business School conducted a comprehensive research study aimed at guiding policy and strategy development for Hong Kong’s regtech sector. The study highlights the pain points currently facing the industry and proposes measures that could strengthen its growth.

To create a more vibrant and innovation-friendly regtech ecosystem, regulators should consider leading in technology development, providing incentives for technology use, and issuing clear guidelines to facilitate technology adoption.

Regtech is a subsector of fintech that adds value to financial institutions and end-users of financial services by automating compliance processes and facilitating innovative customer services such as remote bank account opening. The Hong Kong Government recognises the significance of regtech as part of its fintech strategy and promotes its growth in the city.

To conduct the study, the research team collected insights from regtech solution providers and users, including senior management from banks, payment service providers, and asset management companies. The team used an online survey and focus group discussions to gather this information. Based on their findings, the team developed two reports that summarise their key observations and recommendations.

The research team identified the potential of regtech in automating financial institutions’ know-your-customer (KYC) processes and recommended establishing clear protocols for releasing government data for document verification purposes.

Additionally, the team proposed several solutions to address Hong Kong’s regtech talent shortage, including allocating more resources for on-the-job training, mandating IT courses for finance majors, and establishing an accredited regtech program that is widely recognised.

The Dean of HKUST Business School expressed that financial institutions are turning towards regtech to stay competitive and provide consistent value to customers amid a rapidly changing market with numerous regulatory requirements.

He hopes that this study will help policymakers, regulators, and industry participants to enhance the regtech capabilities of the city and accelerate industry growth. Additionally, the school plans to allocate more resources and focus on regtech research in the future.

The following are the recommendations provided by the HKUST Business School’s study on promoting regtech development in Hong Kong:

Creating a Friendly Regulatory Environment that Encourages Innovation:

  • Establish clear guidelines with notes on interpretation and provide prompt feedback
  • Provide incentives to the industry, startups, and academics to facilitate regtech innovation

Building a Connected, Inclusive, and Vibrant Regtech Ecosystem:

  • Regulators to take lead in technology solutions to address pain points of the industry
  • Build an inclusive regtech network through the facilitators
  • Accreditation of regtech solution providers

Facilitating the Sharing of Data & Technology in the Regtech Community:

  • Standardise the APIs for different banks to share data
  • Provide shared databases and platforms to be accessed by different regtech stakeholders
  • Allow successful sandbox projects to share solutions

Facilitating KYC Processes and Cross-Border Data Access:

  • Establish protocols for verification of documents and identities (individuals and corporates)
  • Collaborate with Mainland China to offer standardised procedures and data access

Solving Hong Kong’s Regtech Talent Shortage:

  • Government and regulators to allocate more resources for on-the-job training
  • Government to sponsor more internships, as firms may not have the resources to support student internships
  • Government could provide living allowance to expatriates, or subsidise the companies that offer housing benefits to expatriates to increase their willingness to relocate to Hong Kong
  • Higher education providers to include mandatory IT courses in the curriculum for finance majors
  • Establish a widely accepted accredited program with regtech as a specialisation for graduates and practitioners to certify fintech and regtech talent
  • Provide a clear path for the regtech profession and offer a more rewarding scheme and more interesting future prospects to attract students into the field.

The Policy Innovation and Coordination Office (PICO) and the Research Grants Council (RGC) funded the study.


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