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HK government launches fintech scheme

The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) announced that the FinTech Anti-epidemic Scheme for Talent Development (FAST Scheme) under the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund was launched and open for application on 2 July 2020. The aim of the scheme is to support the development of financial technology (fintech) in Hong Kong.

The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury stated that, “The Government has earmarked $6 billion under the Anti-epidemic Fund to create around 30,000 time-limited jobs in both public and private sectors in the coming two years for people of different skill sets and academic qualifications.”

To support fintech development, the FSTB will launch the FAST Scheme for fintech companies and start-ups, and other enterprises with fintech-related businesses to create 1,000 new jobs to employ local people and enrich Hong Kong’s fintech talent pool.

The Scheme will offer a quota of 1,000 openings for application on a first-come-first-served basis. Each fintech company can apply for one subsidy for a new full-time position. Successful applicants will receive $10,000 per month as a salary subsidy for a maximum of 12 months. The total funding involved may amount to $120 million.

The applicant (company) must be a Hong Kong registered company or a not-for-profit organisation. The company must have commenced business before 1 January 2020, and still be in operation at the time of application. It must also be conducting substantive fintech activities at a fixed physical office in Hong Kong.

The candidate must be a Hong Kong resident over 18 years old with a Hong Kong identity card and be a holder of accredited certificates, diplomas and degrees obtained in programmes of post-secondary and tertiary institutes in disciplines including information technology, digital media, accounting or business management; or be a person with relevant work experience.

The FSTB has appointed Cyberport to administer the Scheme, which will be open for online application via the Scheme’s dedicated website from 2 July 2020 to 2 July 2 2021.

Details of the eligibility criteria, application procedures and supporting documents required are available at the website for preview.

According to another article, in June 2020 the Hong Kong Monetary Authority introduced a HK$10.8 million subsidy plan to pay half the salaries of 300 fresh university graduates hired by 39 banks and e-wallet operators in the city.

The subsidy will apply for six months for those hired from September, and assumes the companies will pay these graduates HK$12,000 every month.

In March, the government announced a HK$81 billion plan to revive Hong Kong’s battered economy, and offered to pay businesses up to HK$9,000 per month per employee for six months to preserve jobs.

The financial services industry accounts for about a fifth of Hong Kong’s gross domestic product and employs about 263,000 workers, according to official data. In the past two years, many banks have accelerated job cuts and frozen hiring to trim costs, leaving many of the 20,000 graduates finishing their degrees every year staring at a bleak jobs market.

OpoenGov Asia previously reported that the HKU FinTech Index Series Project published the second-year Hong Kong FinTech Growth Index (FGI) and the 2020Q1 Hong Kong FinTech Buzz Index (FBI) to gauge local FinTech companies’ outlook and the general sentiment on the sector as reported by the local press.

The FGI represents responses to an annual survey by 27 companies, 11 less than last year.

The Hong Kong FGI for the financial year 2019-20 is 120.9, up 20.9 index points from 2018-19. The FGI expected for the financial year 2020-21 is 133.6, an increase of 12.7 index points (or 10.5%), representing a positive outlook for Fintech development in Hong Kong in the coming year despite the impact from the anti-extradition bill protests and COVID-19 outbreak.

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