Fintech Hong Kong http://fintechnews.hk - FintechNewsHK Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:15:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 Fintech In Japan: How is The World’s 3rd Largest Economy Tackling Fintech? http://fintechnews.hk/8169/japan/fintech-in-japan-overview-landscape/ http://fintechnews.hk/8169/japan/fintech-in-japan-overview-landscape/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:15:01 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=8169 A global technological leader, Japan has witnessed the emergence of a thriving fintech landscape in the past two years as startups, industry players, regulators and government collaborate to build a

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A global technological leader, Japan has witnessed the emergence of a thriving fintech landscape in the past two years as startups, industry players, regulators and government collaborate to build a favorable environment for innovation.

Ginza at Night, Tokyo, Wikipedia

Image: Ginza at Night, Tokyo, Wikipedia

Tokyo in particular is home to a vibrant fintech ecosystem. Deloitte’s A tale of 44 cities: Connecting Global Fintech: Interim Hub Review 2017 report ranked the city amongst one of the top 12 fintech hubs in the world.

In November 2017, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) formulated the Global Financial City: Tokyo Vision with the aim of making the city an unrivaled global financial center.

The policy outlines the form that the city should take, concrete measures to be taken, and the structures needed to make the vision into a reality.

As part of the plan, TMG launched the Accelerator Program – Fintech Business Camp Tokyo to invite foreign startups with cutting-edge technologies and business models to come to Tokyo. Startups that have participated in the program include LaLa World and Pikcio.

Regulators push fintech innovation

Regulators in Japan have been pushing for fintech innovation through the establishment of several laws around areas that include blockchain, cryptocurrencies and APIs, along with initiatives to support new fintech startups. Japan’s regulatory stance aims to efficiently incorporate fintech into Japan’s economic landscape.

In particular, changes in the Banking Act is making it easier for financial institutions and fintech companies to offer services using APIs and to form an API ecosystem with an expanded arrangement for protecting customers using these.

Similarly, amendments to the Payment Services Act clarify the legal status of virtual currencies, a first in the world, and enact responses from companies in the sector. A framework for protecting consumers was developed, and virtual currency transactions have been promoted.

With further regulatory developments impending, including a new framework addressing ICOs and cryptocurrencies in the country, the sector is expected to further grow.

Financial institutions ramp up fintech development

In the past years, Japanese banks have been diving into fintech as the new regulations are set to bring in a new wave of competitors.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), for instance, created a Digital Innovation Division in 2015 and started the MUFG Digital Accelerator program in 2016.

Mizuho Financial Group is planning to cut thousands of jobs over the next ten years in order to promote efficiency and greater profits by using artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies.

Several banks have also been experimenting with technologies including blockchain and QR codes for more efficient digital payments.

MUFG has developed a blockchain-based payments system in partnership with US tech firm Akamai. The new service, which will operate with its own token called MUFG Coin, will be tested in 2019. The companies hope to launch it in early 2020.

Meanwhile, Bank of Fukuoka, Yokohama Bank and Resona Bank have developed a QR code settlement system that draws directly from accounts.

 

Japan’s fintech industry

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, MaxPixel.net

Image: Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, MaxPixel.net

Fintech companies in Japan are self-organized, represented by associations such as the Fintech Association of Japan (FAJ), which represents over 100 fintech companies in Japan, the Blockchain Collaborative Consortium (BCCC), which has 134 participating companies, and the Japan Blockchain Association.

These associations organize regular events for business networking and technology discussions. The biggest annual fintech event FinSum is organized by Nikkei during late summer with support from FSA and fintech associations.

Some of the fintech segments where Japan has emerged as a leader include distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain, robo-advisory, personal financial management (PFM), and lending.

For instance, Moneytree is Japan’s number one financial data aggregation platform, providing financial data API services and personal finance apps.

Freee, one of Japan’s most well-funded fintech companies, provides an automated online accounting software that syncs with bank accounts and automatically categorizes entries to create financial reports.

Folio offers an online security brokerage service in Japan, specializing in thematic investing. The platform enables users to compile a diversified portfolio, managing their assets through a robo-advisor.

Quoine provides trading, exchange, and next-generation financial services powered by blockchain technology. It was the first global cryptocurrency exchange to be officially licensed by the Japan Financial Service Authority.

 

Featured image via Pexels.com.

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A Snapshot of Hong Kong’s Emerging Mobile Payments Scene and The Players http://fintechnews.hk/7967/mobilepayment/mobile-payments-hong-kong/ http://fintechnews.hk/7967/mobilepayment/mobile-payments-hong-kong/#respond Wed, 16 Jan 2019 06:57:11 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7967 70% of Hongkongers said they have never paid for something using their smartphone, revealed a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Productivity Council in 2018. Despite the plethora of mobile

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70% of Hongkongers said they have never paid for something using their smartphone, revealed a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Productivity Council in 2018.

Despite the plethora of mobile payment options popping up in the city, on 23% surveyed by the HKIRC and Internet Society  said they use the cutting-edge methods.

Mobile payment is essentially using a smartphone or smartwatch to pay for a product or service, or to send money in a few taps. This can be done through installed apps with a scannable barcode or QR code, or sometimes an electronic device using near-field-communication (NFC) technology. In Hong Kong, the HKMA regulates stored value facilities (SVF), commonly known as mobile payment apps, which stores money from debit and credit card accounts.

Hong Kong doesn’t seem to lag behind in the technology but Hongkonger has a separation anxiety with the city’s beloved first contactless payment – the Octopus Card.  As Hong Kong pushes to catch-up with the race to go cashless, let’s have a look at the main mobile payment apps running around Hong Kong.

A study conducted by GroupM seem to indicate that when it comes to user base WeChat and AliPay are toe to toe with OlePay coming in as a close second.

However it’s important to note that due to the small sample size the study is more indicative than it is definitive.

Apple Pay

It goes without saying that Apple Pay is operated by Apple, it functions as a Hosted Card Emulation (HCE) where you are able to store your payment cards and conduct transactions through the app.

Apple Pay works with many of the major credit, debit, and prepaid cards from the top banks and card issuers. It is compatible with existing contactless terminals.

Alipay HK

alipay hk

Ant Financial operates Alipay HK. In November 2018, Alipay HK announced that it inked a deal with MTR Corporation to use a QR code mobile payment solution.The new mobile payment system allows users to scan a QR code from their smartphones onto the MTR’s turnstile reader. Alipay HK said the new QR code payment system will be rolled out in 91 MTR stations by mid-2020. As of June 2018, Alipay HK has 1.5 million registered users.

O!e Pay

O!e Pay

O!e Pay is an app which can be used on devices with NFC to may cashless payments and P2P transfers. As Hongkonger’s to-up the value in their Octopus Cards, the balance can be transferred over to the O!e Pay app to buy e-ticketing, QR code payments and other digital payments.

PayMe

payme

PayMe is a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment service created by HSBC Hong Kong. PayMe is the go-to mobile app split the bill after lunch in Hong Kong.  Users first need to register with either their Facebook or phone number, and then link up their credit card or bank accounts to PayMe. The app encourages users to “add friends” to their PayMe account to make cash transfers easier and faster.

As a P2P app, users can only make payments to other PayMe users and not to vendors. To improve purchasing usability, PayMe partnered with HKTV Mall to allow payments through the app for both online and in-store purchases. After launching for a year, PayMe reached 1 million users in June 2018.

TNG Wallet

tng wallet

TNG Wallet is a homegrown e-wallet provider launched in Hong Kong in 2015 with 600,000 active users in the city.TNG Wallet uses an online-to-offline (O2O) mobile suite which can be used for merchant and purchase payments, P2P money transfers, cash withdrawals, utilities payment and SIM card top-up. TNG Wallet also expanded to 12 locations in Asia which offers global remittance, cross-border transfers and currency exchanges.

Tap&Go

tap n go

Telecommunications provider HKT’s Tap&Go e-wallet allows users to pay with MasterCard and UnionPay on their smartphones.

Samsung Pay

samsung pay

Samsung Pay’s Smart Octopus partnership with MTR is as functional at the physical version of the octopus card. Samsung phone users using the Samsung Note, Samsung S, Samsung A and Samsung C series can use the near-field-communication (NFC) device to tap for purchases.

Featured Image Credit: Freepik

WeChat Pay

Wechat Pay

Tencent’s WeChat is a multi-purpose app for social media, messaging and mobile payments. Every WeChat user can link their debit card to the balance of their WeChat Pay account to transfer money and make purchases. Meanwhile, users who link their credit cards can only make payments to vendors.

WeChat HK has over 40 vendor partners in Hong Kong, including food chains under the Maxim Group and retail partners such as Sasa Cosmetics and G2000 apparel.

 

Featured Image Credit: Designed by victor217 / Freepik

 

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Top 5 Fintech Startups to Watch in Korea in 2019 http://fintechnews.hk/8127/fintechkorea/top-fintech-startups-korea/ http://fintechnews.hk/8127/fintechkorea/top-fintech-startups-korea/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 03:21:40 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=8127 South Korea is well-known as one of the most wired countries in the world with good education and a top global economy. First, a quick look at why Korean fintech

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South Korea is well-known as one of the most wired countries in the world with good education and a top global economy.

First, a quick look at why Korean fintech startups have blossomed and then five startups to watch in 2019.

Reasons Behind Korea’s Fintech Startup Rise

Due to a large population of nearly 50 million people with 75% of the population residing in Seoul in high-rise apartments, the infrastructure is made for internet connectivity.

Up until a few years ago however, Korea was not known as a startup hub.

Cultural norms made it difficult for university students and businessmen to have an entrepreneurial spirit because failure is not easily forgotten. Thus, most people want to graduate and work for big companies to enjoy relative job security.

However, as smartphones started to bring huge outside exposure to global trends such as entrepreneurship, younger people started to feel more comfortable about starting their own businesses.

There was a cultural trend towards living for today and taking more control over own’s life in favor of passionate pursuits.

Startups started to grow in Korea and garner investments from major domestic and global VC firms.

Nowadays, co-working spaces are readily available and helping to create an active startup business culture.

Viva Republic/Toss

(Source: Toss site)

Toss is a payments service similar to Venmo. It recently became South Korea’s fourth unicorn startup after raising funding to put its value at $1.2 billion.

It started after the founder became frustrated with the lack of a simple way to send micropayments to people via smartphone.

Ironically, almost every Korean has a smartphone and uses credit cards for micro-transactions but no easy method existed at that time to perform micro-transactions.

In the past, people had to go through a cumbersome process of entering numerous passwords to transfer money.By using Toss, people can make micro-transactions quickly and easily to each other using their smartphones.

Toss has branched out from peer to peer payments into offering various financial investment products. Financial institutions in Korea have also partnered with Toss to gain access to their user base.

Dunamu

(Source: Dunamu site)

Dunamu is well known in Korea as the financial company behind the popular cryptocurrency exchange Upbit.It shot into the limelight towards the end of 2017 when Upbit formally launched their services.

A subsidiary of South Korean tech giant Kakao Corp., Dunamu also operates the Kakao Stock app feature and received $30 million in funding from Kakao in 2015.

Now a significant tech player, Dunamu has branched itself into seed funding other startup ventures as well with Kakao Ventures.

A recent announcement stated that Dunamu would invest $93 million over the next three years into blockchain-based startups.

HonestFund

(Source: HonestFund site)

In the peer-to-peer lending services industry, HonestFund is a Korea-based startup to watch.

In December 2018, HonestFund announced it had raised $12 million in a Series B investment round led by VC firms such as Dunamu and institutional investors such as Hanhwa Investment and KB Investment.

HonestFund aims to offer loans to customers unable to secure traditional loans from banks through the usage of big data analytical models.

It offers loans for real estate, infrastructure, and unsecured personal loans. HonestFund has already lent more than $300 million in cumulative loans.

Kakao Pay

(Source: KakaoPay site)

While not a traditional bootstrapping startup, Kakao has gained a lot of momentum in the fintech sector as it expands its business operations.

Known as the company behind South Korea’s largest chat messaging app, Kakao offers a broad range of services from taxi to hair salons and now financial services.

Kakao Pay is similar to AliPay with a payments system built-in with Kakao Talk.

In a one-stop mobile app, Kakao Talk users can send payments to other users, pay bills, and sign up for a variety of membership cards to use at leading retail franchises all over Korea.

AIM

(Source: AIM site)

AIM targets users to simplify investment into traditional financial products through their smartphone. It is a robo-advisor investment service.

The app is powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to lower transaction fees and give a higher return on investment.In Korea, it is a complicated process for ordinary people to invest into stocks and bonds.

Middlemen brokerage firms take a larger share of fees to process transactions. AIM removes these barriers with an interface for beginners.

It then invests into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on the New York Stock Exchange for users that want to invest.

 

Featured image credit: unsplash

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How China’s Fintech Giants are Tapping into a US$ 600 Billion Market http://fintechnews.hk/8161/china/china-alibaba-tencent-remittance/ http://fintechnews.hk/8161/china/china-alibaba-tencent-remittance/#respond Tue, 15 Jan 2019 03:07:21 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=8161 China’s tech giants Alibaba and Tencent are going after global remittances, a market that sees more than US$600 billion being moved around the world annually, according to the World Bank.

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China’s tech giants Alibaba and Tencent are going after global remittances, a market that sees more than US$600 billion being moved around the world annually, according to the World Bank.

Hong Kong dollars, by refractedmoments, via Flickr

Image: Hong Kong dollars, by refractedmoments, via Flickr

The two firms recently launched cross-border money transfer services to allow Hong Kong-based workers from Indonesia and the Philippines, who make up most of Hong Kong’s 370,000 domestic workers, to send money home cheaply and easily.

WeChat Pay’s We Remit service became operational in Hong Kong in 2017, while Ant Financial’s venture, launched through its Alipay HK affiliate and based on blockchain technology, started transferring money between Hong Kong and the Philippines in late June 2018.

Unlike We Remit, which currently does not link up to mobile phone wallets but instead require recipients to pick up funds at physical locations like banks or pawnshops, the Alipay remittance service allows real-time transfers between Alipay HK accounts and Filipino mobile payments service Gcash, which Ant Financial partly owns.

Both WeChat Pay’s We Remit service and Alipay HK are working with Hong Kong-based fintech startup EMQ, which has regulatory approvals and bank partnerships across Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Sources told Reuters that Ant Financial has been developing its partnership with EMQ as part of a suite of new cross-board payment efforts.

In the Philippines, EMQ is partnered with Union Bank of the Philippines and popular Filipino pawnshop chains Cebuana and Palawan. EMQ also has a footprint across Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Singapore, China and Japan, and is in the middle of expanding to the Middle East, hinting at where Alipay and WeChat Pay might go next.

Ant Financial, founded in October 2014, originated from Alipay, a third-party online payment platform launched in 2004 by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Since then, it has emerged as the highest valued fintech company in the world and the world’s most valuable unicorn company with a value of US$150 billion.

Ant Financial operates Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payments platform as well as Yu’e Bao, the world’s largest money-market fund. It also runs Sesame Credit, a third-party credit rating system, among many other services.

Image: Alipay mobile app in Malaysia, by Alipay Global, via Facebook

Image: Alipay mobile app in Malaysia, by Alipay Global, via Facebook

WeChat Pay emerged in 2014 to challenge AliPay’s dominance of China’s online payments industry. The digital wallet service, incorporated into Tencent’s multi-purpose app WeChat, rapidly won market share by leveraging the power of social networking. WeChat had more than 1 billion accounts as of Q3 2018, according to Statista. The WeChat Pay digital wallet allows users to perform mobile payments and send money between contacts.

In 2016, Alipay and WeChat Pay together processed over US$3 trillion of electronic payments.

WeChat Pay

WeChat Pay

Alibaba and Tencent are entering a highly competitive market currently dominated by the likes of Moneygram and Western Union. Moneygram has a global network of partners of some 350,000 outlets across 200 countries while Western Union has more than 550,000 locations worldwide. Alibaba sought to acquire Moneygram last year but the US rejected the US$1.2 billion deal over national security concerns.

Hong Kong isn’t Ant Financial’s only move in remittances. Reuters points out to job advertisements in September for its Malaysia office listing remittances as a responsibility. The company has also launched joint ventures in seven markets including Malaysia and Thailand for local digital payments services.

With a growing population of 600 million people, many of which unbanked, Southeast Asia has emerged as a strategic battleground for tech firms. Regional tech players, including Grab from Singapore and Go-Jek from Indonesia, are rapidly expanding into financial services, including remittances.

Ride-sharing platform Grab announced a remittance offering under the company’s financial services arm Grab Financial in November 2018. The remittance product will be available from early 2019 and will let users remit money instantly to recipients in another country using the GrabPay wallet. Receivers will be able to choose to either cash out the remitted sum via the regular network of cash-out points or use it on everyday transactions, ranging from bill payments to mobile airtime top-ups. Grab operates across eight countries in Southeast Asia and claims 125 million downloads as of November 2018.

Grab’s main rival Go-Jek ventured into fintech in 2016 with the launch of Go-Pay. Since then, the firm has started a banking revolution in Indonesia, making significant headway among segments of the population not covered by formal banking, increasing e-payment penetration and promoting the cashless economy.

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Korea is Shaping up to Be A Blockchain Hub — Here’s Why http://fintechnews.hk/8002/blockchain/blockchain-korea-industry/ http://fintechnews.hk/8002/blockchain/blockchain-korea-industry/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2019 09:29:33 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=8002 When talking to South Koreans, the word “blockchain” has become a household buzzword. Most people have heard of it via the mainstream local media, especially when there was a massive

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When talking to South Koreans, the word “blockchain” has become a household buzzword. Most people have heard of it via the mainstream local media, especially when there was a massive fervor around bitcoin and cryptocurrencies towards the end of 2017.

Ordinary citizens were struggling to make decent returns on their savings investments. Millennial & senior citizen unemployment rates were higher than usual.

Thus, they turned towards cryptocurrencies as a way to “get rich quick” as people started to hear about how others received hefty profits on their Bitcoin and Ethereum investments. What followed was the start of a worldwide cryptocurrency bear market that has persisted until today.

Despite that Korea is quickly shaping up to be a region to watch when it comes to blockchain, here are some reasons why.

A Pro-Blockchain Government

The South Korean government continues to be pro-blockchain development to this day. The government is always on the lookout for the next economic drivers to stay nationally competitive in different industries.

In a report by the Korea Economic Daily, the South Korean government has set aside $35 million to develop domestic blockchain-based industries this year.

The southern island of Jeju has also come into the blockchain foray with ambitions of becoming an “Asian Malta.”

According to the Korea Joongang Daily, the governor of Jeju Island wants to create a special economic zone to nurture blockchain and cryptocurrency projects with clear deregulation measures.

This would potentially lead to an inflow of foreign talents to Korea to base their projects while also keeping domestic talents from leaving abroad due to regulatory constraints.

Initial coin offerings (ICOs) and security token offerings (STOs) would be allowed under the proposals set forth. Many blockchain industry insiders are predicting that the next cryptocurrency bull run will be sparked by institutional capital inflows into security tokens.

 

Source: Mobi Inside

A Strong Foundation of Blockchain Companies

Blockchain Korea

Some of the most interesting developments in Korea’s blockchain industry focus on protocol development, namely smart contract platforms.

ICON with backing from Dayli Financial Group and the advisory services of Don Tapscott has the biggest brand name recognition. They have garnered partnerships with leading domestic universities, insurance firms, and hospitals to integrate data onto their main net blockchain.

Blocko is a startup enterprise focused on offering permissioned, enterprise blockchain services for digital identity and payments with a software solution called “Coinstack.” They have received investment from major local conglomerates such as Samsung Venture Investment and POSCO in Series A and B funding rounds.

Kakao Talk, the company behind the most widely used messaging app in Korea, is also developing their own blockchain platform called Klaytn through their blockchain business subsidiary, Ground X.

According to Simon Kim, founding partner of Korea’s largest crypto fund #Hashed, the moment Kakao Talk starts offering cryptocurrencies and wallets to almost every Korean via smartphones will be a game changer.

Aergo, TTC Protocol, Contents Protocol, Terra, and Carry are some of the other hyped blockchain projects with ties to global crypto institutional funds such as FBG Capital and DHVC.

A growing cryptocurrency exchange market

Blockchain Korea

On the exchange front, Bithumb and Upbit lead the market in terms of daily trading volume and users.

Upbit through its affiliation with Kakao Talk has built a strong brand name for security services and a wide range of cryptocurrency offerings. User experience and interface is also clean and simple.

Korbit, Coinone, and Gopax are in the next tier of exchanges with significantly less trading volume but with solid security and analytical services.

Big name exchanges from abroad such as Huobi and BTCC have also set up business operations in Korea but with less users.

Vibrant blockchain meet-up and conference scene

Throughout 2017, Korea played host to a number of international blockchain conferences almost every month. Local meetups were held almost every week with bigger name projects such as Ripple, EOS, NEO, Bitcoin Cash and smaller ICO projects.

As reported by Fintech Singapore, a new blockchain café even opened up in Seoul.

Beyond Blocks Seoul in July 2017 was the highlight international blockchain conference with Mike Novogratz, Ran Neuner of CNBC Africa, Mike Arrington of XRP Capital, and other significant blockchain industry stakeholders from all over attending.

To this day, Korea continues to host blockchain conferences and developer meetups in Seoul and local communities.

While the excitement from small retail investors has abated considerably, blockchain-based companies in Korea are still hiring and receiving investment from venture capital funds, albeit less than the heyday of 2017.

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HKMA Holds High-level Fintech Roundtable with 30 Central Banks http://fintechnews.hk/7997/various/hkma-holds-high-level-fintech-roundtable-with-30-central-banks/ http://fintechnews.hk/7997/various/hkma-holds-high-level-fintech-roundtable-with-30-central-banks/#respond Thu, 10 Jan 2019 03:36:20 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7997 The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) held 9 January 2019 a high-level Fintech Roundtable (Roundtable), which was attended by about 45 senior representatives from six international organizations and around 30

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The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) held 9 January 2019 a high-level Fintech Roundtable (Roundtable), which was attended by about 45 senior representatives from six international organizations and around 30 central banks or regulatory authorities in 18 jurisdictions.

The Roundtable facilitated exchange of ideas and discussions on current fintech topics which are of mutual interests. It also aimed to strengthen cross-border fintech collaboration among jurisdictions in order to promote innovation and technology adoption that would bring greater convenience, efficiency and security to the public and at the same time ensure financial stability.

Titled From Mutual Understanding to Global Collaboration, the Roundtable comprised presentations and panel discussions that covered a range of topics including case studies of cross-border collaborations, open banking, and the use of emerging technologies in providing financial services. Participants discussed issues that merit each other’s attention and shared their experience and insights into these topics.

Mr Howard Lee, Deputy Chief Executive of the HKMA, said,

Howard Lee

Howard Lee

“One of the key characteristics of fintech is that it is borderless. As fintech develops, cross-border issues are likely to gain importance. It is therefore crucial that we deepen mutual understanding and step up global collaboration to ensure a well-functioning financial system.

Today’s Roundtable demonstrates the HKMA’s commitment in this regard. I am pleased to see the positive outcome of the event and the strong support we received from the participants. The HKMA will continue to foster cross-border fintech collaboration and facilitate the creation of a conducive ecosystem for fintech innovation.”

The HKMA will also host a two-day Financial Stability Board Financial Innovation Network meeting on 10 and 11 January 2019, immediately after the Roundtable.

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4 Infographics Outlining Hong Kong’s Fintech Industry http://fintechnews.hk/7983/various/4-infographics-outlining-hong-kongs-fintech-industry/ http://fintechnews.hk/7983/various/4-infographics-outlining-hong-kongs-fintech-industry/#respond Wed, 09 Jan 2019 03:28:31 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7983 Hong Kong, an international finance hub and technologically advanced center for logistics and communications, has been hard at work to develop a favorable environment for fintech innovation and startups. As

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Hong Kong, an international finance hub and technologically advanced center for logistics and communications, has been hard at work to develop a favorable environment for fintech innovation and startups.

As a result, the ecosystem has grown significantly in the past years, and today, the city is home to some of the world’s hottest fintech startups.

The following four infographics outline Hong Kong’s unique features as a fintech hub and showcase the city’s burgeoning fintech industry.

Hong Kong as a fintech hub

Hong Kong has got some key advantages when it comes to fintech. First off, the city is home to one of the world’s top financial centers and is widely renowned for its ease of doing business. Hong Kong also has the world’s freest market and one of world’s simplest tax systems.

Additionally, it is the number one market in Asia in terms of smartphone penetration and has one of the fastest growing startup ecosystems in the world.

Hong Kong Fundamentals, InvestHK

Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem

In the past years, the government has launched several initiatives aimed at fostering collaboration between industry participants, facilitating innovation, and attracting young startups.

These include three regulatory sandboxes, the Hong Kong Fintech Week, which brings thousands of participants every year, educational programs, as well as regulations aimed at providing clarity to young, innovative startups.

Hong Kong has also inked partnerships with several other countries including Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, the UK and Dubai to strengthen co-operation on fintech and help its innovative companies expand more easily into these markets.

hong kong fintech eco system

Hong Kong’s fintech startups

Hong Kong’s attractive blend of global capital flows and local investor access, stable legal system and regulatory regime, strong language capability and deep talent pool, have allowed for the emergence of a rich and large fintech startup ecosystem in Hong Kong covering all segments of fintech from payments and remittances, wealthtech and credittech, to blockchain technology and insurtech.

Some of Hong Kong’s most notable fintech companies include online lender WeLab, which is preparing for a US$500 million Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO), and digital wallet operator TNG, which is developing a virtual banking business and looking to expand overseas.

Hong Kong is also home to a number of venture capital firms and acceleration programs aimed at helping promising startups grow. These include Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab acceleration program, SuperCharger’s fintech accelerator and the DBS Accelerator.

Additionally, government funding schemes and funds such as Hong Kong Cyberport’s fintech-focused private equity fund, the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund, and the Technology Voucher Programme are there to provide fintech companies with further funding opportunities.

The Hong Kong government’s 2018 budget pledged to allocate HK$500 million to the development of financial services over the next five years, including fintech.

Hong Kong fintech companies have raised a total of US$940 million since 2010, nearly one-third more than the amount raised by Australian fintechs and more than double the amount raised by fintechs in Singapore and Japan, according to Accenture.

Hong Kong Fintech Map 2018

Hong Kong’s latest fintech initiatives

The Hong Kong government has launched several new initiatives in the past year aimed at solidifying the city’s leading position as a fintech hub.

These include the Faster Payment System (FPS) and the Common QR Code, launched in September 2018, the Virtual Banking license in May 2018 and the Open API Framework in July 2018. 29 entities have reportedly applied for the new Virtual Banking license. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is expected to issue the first licenses in the first quarter of 2019.

In October 2018, HKMA launched its blockchain-based banking trade finance platform, eTradeConnect. eTradeConnect combines the services of 12 major domestic and international banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank to enhance cross border trade, and links up with another blockchain platform called we.trade, to allow better trading among a network of 14 European banks including Deutsche Bank, Rabobank, and UBS.

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Where to Buy Cryptocurrencies in South Korea http://fintechnews.hk/7959/fintechkorea/where-to-buy-cryptocurrencies-in-south-korea/ http://fintechnews.hk/7959/fintechkorea/where-to-buy-cryptocurrencies-in-south-korea/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 05:13:17 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7959 While the global cryptocurrency fervor has abated throughout the course of 2018 following bitcoin’s parabolic rise in the year prior, investors in South Korea into continue to trade cryptocurrencies via

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While the global cryptocurrency fervor has abated throughout the course of 2018 following bitcoin’s parabolic rise in the year prior, investors in South Korea into continue to trade cryptocurrencies via large cryptocurrency exchange gateways.

In South Korea, there are a few major cryptocurrency exchanges that handle the majority of cryptocurrency trading volume for retail investors with spot trading due to regulations against margin trading. Institutional investment into the cryptocurrency side of the industry is also negligible as current South Korean regulations are in an ambiguous discovery phase but investment into blockchain companies is still going strong.

South Korean investors tend to prefer cryptocurrency exchanges with simple fiat onramps for immediate fiat deposit and withdrawal as opposed to crypto-to-crypto exchanges which require a base cryptocurrency such as bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH) to trade against.

For foreign investors interested in trading on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, the process is a bit different and does not allow South Korean fiat deposit and withdrawal. However, crypto-to-crypto trading is allowed and possible for foreigners on South Korean exchanges.

Currently, there are two major players in the Korean cryptocurrency exchange market: Bithumb and Upbit, which are both owned and operated by large Korean conglomerates.

Bithumb offers dozens of major and smaller cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Ether, XRP, EOS, and others to buy and sell on its exchange. Registration is relatively straightforward with multiple languages supported on its website and mobile application. Depositing and withdrawing cryptocurrencies is similar to other worldwide exchanges.

Bithumb also operates an English customer support desk that is available 24 hours/7 days a week and can be found on their website. It went fully operational well before Upbit so has name recognition in South Korea as the first large volume cryptocurrency exchange. However, there have been some security issues with Bithumb in the past.

 

bithumb

Source: Screenshot (Bithumb site)

Upbit is South Korea’s largest and most reputable cryptocurrency exchange. Created by Dunamu, a fintech subsidiary of Kakao Corp., Upbit has shot up to be the market leader among retail investors, garnering support for its simple user interface and user experience. It was the first major cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea to offer a plethora of cryptocurrencies with fiat pairings due to its partnership with U.S.- based Bittrex.

To buy and sell cryptocurrencies on Upbit, a user must need a local South Korean based number to sign up using Kakao Talk as the required two-factor authentication method. Once signed up, it is easy to start trading cryptocurrencies. Upbit offers a bitcoin (BTC) and ETH base currency market for crypto-to-crypto trading.

 

upbit

Source: Screenshot (Upbit site)

In South Korea, there are also a number of smaller cryptocurrency exchanges that are in the mid-tier level such as Coinone, Korbit, and Gopax that have less trading volume but offer strong security.

With South Korea being a worldwide hub for cryptocurrency trading activity, several exchanges are coming into business each month.

It is always advisable to research thoroughly before deciding to invest any money and use an exchange.

 

Featured image credit: Edited from here and here

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Chinese UnionPay Cardholders Entitled to Amazon Giftcard When Paying Student Fees http://fintechnews.hk/7949/mobilepayment/unionpay-amazon-giftcard-geoswift/ http://fintechnews.hk/7949/mobilepayment/unionpay-amazon-giftcard-geoswift/#respond Tue, 08 Jan 2019 03:36:33 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7949 Geoswift, UnionPay International and Western Union have recently offered a joint tuition payment promotion available to Chinese students studying at more than 600 academic institutions in 11 countries. The promotion

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Geoswift, UnionPay International and Western Union have recently offered a joint tuition payment promotion available to Chinese students studying at more than 600 academic institutions in 11 countries.

The promotion is available only for Chinese students studying in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Czech Republic and Austria who choose to pay at least RMB 10,000.

Eligible Chinese students studying abroad who pay their tuition in RMB are offered a complimentary Amazon gift card worth RMB 100, while supplies last.

To be eligible, students will need to make a qualifying RMB payment by selecting UnionPay on their institution’s WU® GlobalPay for Students platform and complete payment via Geoswift’s PayTuitionNow portal. The offer is available until March 31, 2019 and  available to UnionPay cardholders (card number starting with ’62’).

June Chen, General Manager of UnionPay International America said:

“Chinese students who study abroad and their families are a customer group to whom we attach great importance. On the one hand, we are making education payments a feature service of UnionPay cross-border online payments, providing solutions to the biggest pain point of tuition fee payments.”

“On the other, we are expanding our acceptance network in and near renowned schools, further enriching the card using channels by promoting innovative products like mobile QuickPass QR code payment.”

Featured image via UnionPay International

 

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Their Business Faced Roadblocks, So Didi is Now Mirroring Alibaba’s Fintech Game Plan http://fintechnews.hk/7932/lending/didi-chuxing-alibaba-finance-insurance-loan-car/ http://fintechnews.hk/7932/lending/didi-chuxing-alibaba-finance-insurance-loan-car/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 10:33:47 +0000 http://fintechnews.hk/?p=7932 The company that drove Uber out of China, Didi Chuxing, comes into the new year embroiled in controversy. About a month ago, Didi announced a major restructuring—the latest development in

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The company that drove Uber out of China, Didi Chuxing, comes into the new year embroiled in controversy. About a month ago, Didi announced a major restructuring—the latest development in series of platform tweaks after it came out that the platform’s features had a hand in two separate passenger murder cases.

The incidents have also caused regulators to descend upon the ride-hailing service with concerns for safety, as both instances highlighted some gaps in Didi’s driver management and authentication procedures.

These security troubles follow a wide scale collapse of the bicycle-sharing industry, with ofo, a company that Didi hedged some huge financial bets on, falling the hardest of all due to poor planning and internal troubles among its higher ups.

It’s not as if Didi Chuxing is on its last legs, but current trends do not bode well for the giant.

Now, Didi Chuxing is Putting Full Force into Its Fintech Setup

didi chuxing labs fintech research

Image Credit: Didi Chuxing

Didi Chuxing set up its financial business group in early 2018 and has been testing its products within that period. Following that quiet period, Didi unveiled the rollout of two financial products available in-app: car loans and personal insurance.

Didi’s goal is to provide personal financial products in an era of new economy and flexible employment.

Asia Times reports that the web version offers some additional services, including fund-raising for serious illnesses, health insurance, wealth management and auto insurance. The fundraising side of their offerings seem to mimic the crowdfunding model, though it doesn’t seem to be a financial product.

Meanwhile, the other offerings on the Didi platform will be provided by licensed financial institutions, like banks, insurance companies and consumer finance firms.

With its ride-hailing service at its core, Didi stated that its future expansions into fintech will be designed to meet the financial demands of both drivers and passengers.

They conducted trials in 10 Chinese cities including Chongqing and Zhengzhou, but will see a nationwide rollout this week.

Didi’s move into the financial services space means that the company will stand up to established players like Ant Financial, the fintech arm of the Alibaba Group which became a force to be reckoned with following its successful Alipay e-wallet.

Didi already had fintech in its vision before its not-so-stellar 2018, but one has to wonder if these plans had been expedited somewhat following crisis in its core business. At this venture, launching complementary financial services to its ride-hailing side could help bolster its core business. However, we can’t help wondering if Didi plans to stay on this path, or use it as a stepping stone for expansion into its own separate fintech arm.

If the latter is the case, then Didi Chuxing will have to step out of a zone it has mastery in into the shark-infested waters of the fintech industry in China, filled with competition ready to crush it.

Featured image via Didi Chuxing

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