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Hong Kong Chief Executive’s Policy Address highlights – Part Five

Recently, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, delivered her 2018 Policy Address. The press release issued by the HKSAR Government reflects on the progress of the region and details the next steps that Hong Kong will take regarding technology, digital transformation and other pertinent topics.

Part One of this series can be found here, Part Two here, Part Three here and Part Four, here.

The previous part in this series covered that the CE announced an HK$3.92 billion addition to the block vote to promote further tech adoption by departments. She also shared the next phase of Smart City moves, aimed at using technology to improve the community, including plans to Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot functions will be introduced to the GovHK portal in 2019.

Later on in the address, the CE discussed Financial Technologies. She noted that the Government has adopted a five-pronged approach in facilitating Fintech development, namely promotion, facilitation, regulation, talents and funding.

Recently, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) launched the Faster Payment System to link up banks and stored value facilities operators. The system enables the public to make real-time money transfers anytime and anywhere with the use of a mobile number or email address as account proxy for the payee.  A common QR code standard was also launched last month to facilitate retail payments across different e-wallets, offering convenience to merchants and customers alike.

In addition to this, the HKMA is processing the first batch of virtual banking licence applications. The licences are expected to be issued by end-2018 or early 2019 at the earliest. The Open Application Programming Interface framework for the banking industry will allow access by third-party service providers and offer innovative financial services to members of the public.

The CE also acknowledged that while the government embraces Fintech to enhance the competitiveness of its financial services industry, it is also mindful of the risks involved and will fulfil its duties to protect the investing public.

The Chief Executive made a note of the fact that in her last Policy Address, she had stated that the Government would take the lead in the issuance of green bonds to signify its support for sustainable development and determination to combat climate change and to promote the development of green finance in Hong Kong.

She noted that it is now seeking the relevant authorisation by the LegCo for launching the Government Green Bond Programme early and making an inaugural green bond issuance under the Programme.

Next, on the docket, the CE discussed Investment Promotion wherein she noted that the government will continue to actively attract foreign inward investments. According to the latest survey jointly conducted by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) and the Census and Statistics Department, there are over 8,700 business operations in Hong Kong with parent companies situated overseas or in the Mainland. Among them, 1,530 have their regional headquarters situated in Hong Kong, representing an increased by 8.3% as compared with the same period last year.

Thus, by adopting a more proactive and targeted strategy, InvestHK, together with the relevant bureaux as well as overseas ETOs and Mainland offices, successfully attracted many renowned organisations in priority sectors to set up operations in Hong Kong over the past year.

For example, a spin-off from a major college in London established a surgical robotics research and development centre in Hong Kong. Them, an e-commerce giant, in partnership with SenseTime and the HKSTPC, launched the HKAI Lab.

This was followed by another e-commerce giant setting up its first creative hub outside the Mainland for digital entrepreneurs.

An Asia Pacific Blockchain Lab was announced; then, a Fintech platform from Israel established its presence in Hong Kong.

Thus, Hong Kong’s start-up ecosystem is developing rapidly. A survey conducted by InvestHK revealed that there were over 2,200 start-ups in Hong Kong last year, representing a growth of 16% over 2016.

The CE made it clear that the public can expect more growth and can look forward to new tech and innovation.

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