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Hong Kong unveils Fintech 2025 strategy

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority recently unveiled its Fintech 2025 strategy which aims to encourage the financial sector to adopt technology comprehensively by 2025 and provide fair and efficient financial services.

The authority’s Chief Executive said at a press conference that the strategy comprises five focus areas – all banks go fintech, future-proofing Hong Kong for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), creating the next-generation data infrastructure, expanding the fintech-savvy workforce, and nurturing the ecosystem with funding and policies. “Fintech is, without doubt, a key growth engine for the financial industry in the post-pandemic era, and now is the right time to double down on our efforts to grasp the opportunities. Fintech 2025 sets out our vision in this regard,” the HKMA CE said.

To promote all-around adoption of fintech by Hong Kong banks, the authority will roll out a Tech Baseline Assessment to take stock of the banks’ current and planned adoption of fintech. This would help identify fintech business areas or specific technology types which may be underdeveloped and would benefit from the authority’s support.

In addition to the continued effort on wholesale CBDCs, the authority has been working with the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub Centre in Hong Kong to research retail CBDCs and will begin a study on e-HKD to understand its use cases, benefits and related risks. HKMA will embark on this study to see whether there is a case for Hong Kong to issue a retail e-Hong Kong dollar, the official noted.

The authority will also work with the People’s Bank of China in supporting the technical testing of e-CNY in Hong Kong with a view to providing a convenient means of cross-boundary payments for both domestic and mainland residents.

Hong Kong’s existing data infrastructure will also be enhanced, which would include building the Commercial Data Interchange, digital corporate identity and distributed ledger technology-based credit data-sharing platform to facilitate consent-based data sharing.

To groom more fintech talent, the authority will collaborate with various strategic partners through developing fintech-specific training programmes and qualifications, as well as promoting joint projects between the industry and academia. The Industry Project Masters Network scheme will be piloted in September to provide internship opportunities to postgraduate students to work on banks’ fintech projects on federated learning and other artificial intelligence technologies.

The authority and industry key players will establish a new Fintech Cross-Agency Coordination Group to formulate supportive policies for the city’s fintech ecosystem. Preparatory work for the Hong Kong Growth Portfolio, which seeks to reinforce the city’s status as a financial, commercial and innovation centre, is underway. The authority will also enhance its Fintech Supervisory Sandbox and is exploring with the Innovation & Technology Commission the possibility of providing funding support to qualified fintech projects.

“I urge all stakeholders to join forces with the authority. Together, we can take our city’s fintech ecosystem to new heights,” the HKMA CE added.

Another report notes that according to the PBC’s annual payment system report, in 2020, banks in the Chinese mainland handled a total of 354.73 billion in non-cash payment transactions, amounting to US$627.3 trillion. Of these transactions, 235.23 billion were electronic payment transactions, worth a total of US$423.69 trillion. The data showed that nearly 70% of the non-cash payments were made via electronic means last year, indicating that electronic payments have high recognition in the mainland.

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