February 28, 2024

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Financial Inclusion: Federated Learning for Hong Kong SMEs

Image Credits: ASTRI, Press Release

A licensed bank incorporated in Hong Kong and Asia’s first online price compares platform instant quote express, air freight, sea freight, rail freight and trucking (the company) have collaborated to employ privacy-preserving technology called “Federated Learning,” developed by the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI).

This technology aims to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong by providing enhanced access to financial products and services, simplifying the financing and credit application procedures for SMEs.

Aligned with the objectives outlined in the 2023 Policy Address to unlock SME potential, Federated Learning technology-driven financial solutions are positioned to address the financing and cash flow needs of SMEs, particularly those in rapidly growing sectors like e-commerce and cross-border trade. SMEs can improve their business development and market expansion plans by overcoming challenges related to financing, cash flow, and information fragmentation.

The company, a comprehensive international supply chain finance platform, seeks to innovate and redefine the logistics experience for individual and corporate clients. The platform offers seamless search and comparison processes for instant freight quotes, enabling businesses to access comprehensive shipment data, track cargo status, and facilitate secure payment and financing.

Through leveraging Federated Learning technology developed by ASTRI, a collaboration between the company and the technology enables collaborative machine learning while keeping all the training data on devices to safeguard data privacy. This enables the generation of predictive machine learning models in an encrypted way, ensuring customers’ privacy and data security throughout the process.

These models can effectively generate lists of prospects best suited for financial products and services based on clients’ behavioural patterns on the company’s platform. This helps address SMEs’ long-standing pain point of information overload in finding suitable financial products and services, ultimately enhancing SMEs’ access to financial solutions that best match their needs.

ASTRI’s Federated Learning technology has garnered notable recognition, including the “Asia FinTech Award 2023 – Data Initiative of the Year” and the “BUSINESS GOVirtual Tech Awards 2023 – Tech Company of the Year (Excellence Award in FinTech)”.

The collaboration underscores the potential of open shared data in the FinTech sector, facilitating the pre-screening of suitable financial services and products for SMEs, enabling financial institutions to evaluate and approve loans effectively.

The use of the Federated Learning technology aligns closely with several key initiatives and goals set forth by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. Firstly, the partnership resonates with the HKSAR government’s emphasis on promoting innovation and technology as a cornerstone for economic development.

By leveraging advanced technologies like Federated Learning, the collaboration seeks to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of financial services, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This aligns with the government’s broader objective of fostering a vibrant ecosystem for technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

Secondly, the collaboration supports the HKSAR government’s initiatives aimed at promoting financial inclusion and supporting SMEs. By simplifying the financing and credit application processes, the use of Federated Learning technology enables SMEs to access financial products and services more easily. This not only addresses the financing needs of SMEs but also contributes to fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for small businesses to thrive.

Furthermore, the collaboration underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing Hong Kong’s position as a leading financial and trading hub in the region. By facilitating smoother cross-border trade and providing innovative supply chain finance solutions, the partnership helps to strengthen Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Overall, the collaboration reflects the HKSAR government’s strategic focus on promoting technological innovation, supporting SMEs, and enhancing Hong Kong’s position as a global financial and trading hub.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

PARTNER

CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

PARTNER

Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

PARTNER

HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

PARTNER

IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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