Being a media specialized in fintech reporting provides us with an unparalleled view of the emerging trends and players in the space.
After tracking the performance and announcements from hundreds of Hong Kong based fintech companies, here are (in our view) the top 15 fintech companies operating in Hong Kong in 2021.
Founded in 2018, Bowtie is the first virtual insurance company to provide residents of Hong Kong with a full digital insurance experience through innovative technology, allowing customers to obtain quotations, underwriting and claims services anytime, anywhere.
Built with modern technology and medical expertise, Bowtie’s platform offers health insurance plans under the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) to customers directly. Bowtie is backed by Sun Life and supported by leading international reinsurers.
In April 2020, Bowtie announced that 3 Hong Kong, the mobile arm of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, will collaborate with them to launch 3Care, a mobile insurance platform for its subscribers.
They had also partnered with Deliveroo HK to offer insurance to riders and their families.
OneDegree Hong Kong
AI Financial Technology (OneDegree) is a technology company that aims to shake up the traditional insurance industry with its fully digital insurance platform. OneDegree Hong Kong, its wholly owned subsidiary, has been granted a virtual insurance license by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority under the IA’s “Fast Track” scheme that was launched in 2017.
In April 2020, they had launched their first product which is medical coverage for pets called Pawfect Care. They intend to introduce other products, including cyber insurance and medical coverage for humans, all available completely online, over the next 12 months.
The group also collaborates with global leaders in the insurance and healthcare space to deliver innovative technology and user experience.
Backers of OneDegree include BitRock Capital, Cyberport Macro Fund and Cathay Venture.
ZA Bank, established by ZhongAn Technologies International, launched Hong Kong’s first digital-only bank in December as a pilot. The bank intends to provide a “full suite of services 24/7” through an account that can be opened in minutes with just a Hong Kong identity card. In the span of six months, ZA Bank has acquired over 180,000 users.
In May 2020, ZA Bank had expanded its line of products and services through “ZA Life” and “ZA Insure” by obtaining a digital-only insurer license from the Hong Kong Insurance Authority under its Fast Track pilot scheme.
ZA Bank recently started offering 6% for three-month deposits up to HK$200,000 (US$25,000), which includes a 4% top up. It has also partnered with Fiserv to deploy its VisionPLUS global payment software, which supports the entire card payment lifecycle. The package includes a full suite of APIs for speedy application development and integration.
Diginex is a blockchain financial services and technology company. The startup partners with institutional investors, corporations and governments to make digital assets more accessible, business processes more efficient and secure.
Diginex provides institutional-grade investment tools for management of digital assets, insured custody, capital markets, exchange and markets. The company also provides end-to-end blockchain solutions for corporations and governments. In April 2020, the blockchain company partnered with Itiviti to provide NYFIX connectivity for digital asset investors.
The company also made several key appointments including two former UBS executives.
Roots is a robo-advisory property and mortgage platform that analyzes users’ social behaviors, needs and financial situation, to make the home purchase process as simple as possible.
The platform that promises clients to give them the best mortgage possible. With only one online application, as well as a unique combination of cutting edge technology, homebuyers can get legitimate and accurate mortgage offers from multiple banks, to enable a simple and efficient mortgage process.
Roots is supported by the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund, HKUST Entrepreneurship Centre, and Startup League.
Aqumon (by Magnum Research)
Founded in 2015, Magnum Research is the operator of robo-advisor Aqumon, a platform which utilizes an algorithmic, data and machine learning approach to provide clients with access to diversified global asset allocation.
In addition to servicing retail customers, Aqumon also offers institutional solutions that are currently being used by more than 50 leading financial intuitions and asset management firms across the region.
Aqumon was selected into Cyberport’s Incubation Programme in March 2019. In December 2019, it partnered with CMB Wing Lung Bank to launch Wealth-Tech, Hong Kong’s first retail bank based robo-advisory offering.
Another recent partnership was formed in June 2020 with BOCI Securities Limited which is a robo advisor in Hong Kong.
Aqumon was originally incubated by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). The startup is backed by the Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund along with other institutional investors. It has offices in Hong Kong, China and Singapore.
Founded in 2017, Apoidea is an artificial intelligence (AI) fintech company that leverages novel techniques in deep learning and natural language to search, aggregate and process a variety of financial information. In 2019, the fintech was given the award for Outstanding Artificial Intelligence Financial Analytics Solution by the Hong Kong Economic Times for FinTech Awards 2019.
Apoidea has developed and launched several products including a financial spreading solution which helps automate and fasten commercial lending decision and customer due diligence of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients for commercial banks, as well as a market monitoring system, which helps sales and marketing team of asset managers and brokerage firms send market update via innovative channels such as instant messenger without human intervention.
Apoidea raised “tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars” in a pre-Series A funding round from E Capital, a private investment vehicle of tycoon Richard Li Tzar-kai, in November 2019. It said it would use the investment to fund team expansion and business development in Southeast Asia.
Founded in 2016, Galileo Platforms is a technology platform company serving the insurance sector. The company uses blockchain technology to connect distributors and insurers, thereby enabling them to conduct real-time transactions. It acts as an intermediary between distributors, insurers, technology service innovators and reinsurers for conducting tasks like quotes, purchase, payments, claims, changes and renewals.
Last year, Galileo Platforms raised a US$2 million Series A funding round led by Greenlight Re, and won the inaugural Citi TTS ASEAN Fintech Accelerance Program 2019’s Most Innovative Solution Award.
Founded in 2017, Hex Trust is a fully licensed and insured, bank-grade solution for the institutional custody of digital assets. Hex Trust has built a proprietary platform that delivers a secure crypto custody solution for banks, financial institutions, exchanges, asset managers, and corporations. The platform includes a state-of-the-art security framework delivered in partnership with IBM, as well as comprehensive insurance arranged by AON for loss, damage, destruction, or theft of digital assets.
2019 was an exciting year for Hex Trust, which launched its product, grew its team, and secured major partnerships with the likes of IBM, the London Derivatives Exchanges (LDX), TradAir, and R3.
In June 2020, Hex Trust had partnered with Mason Privatbank Liechtenstein to offer digital asset custody.
The startup also expanded its presence in Asia by opening offices in Singapore and Vietnam, and is looking to enter Europe in 2020.
Founded in 2018, MaiCapital is a licensed hedge fund manager that specializes in blockchain and cryptocurrency investments. MaiCapital’s flagship product is Blockchain Opportunity Fund, a multi-strategy hedge fund which deploys quantitative trading and arbitrage strategies.
MaiCaptital was one of the finalists of the Fast Track program part of the 2019 Hong Kong Fintech Week, and recently won the ETNet Fintech Awards 2019 in the Wealth Investment and Management category.
In May 2020, MaiCapital announced the launch of its second crypto-themed quantitative hedge fund called Bitcoin+ Investment Fund1 with the aim to track and potentially outperform Bitcoin’s performance in various market conditions.
Founded in 2015, MeReal Biometrics is an advanced security technology company specializing in biometric smart cards. The cards use fingerprint technology driven by disruptive acoustic/RFID authentication technology as an alternative to PIN codes and passwords to better secure consumers’ data.
In May 2019, MeReal Biometrics launched the Keyper, its latest generation patented smart card. The Keyper, which the company claims is the world’s most versatile fingerprint card, comes with new features and functionalities including support for transactions through contact and contactless technologies, as well as sound waves, a tamper resistant chip that allows for a confidential data exchange between the card and any external device or software, as well as a more convenient experience when adding applications.
Founded in 2015, Velotrade is a digital trade finance marketplace that brings together businesses willing to sell their trade receivables to institutional investors willing to advance funds. Velotrade’s platform incorporates modern technologies to make the approval process that expedite financing more efficient. Additional identity verification and due diligence is conducted via the same technology platforms used by banks, according to the company.
Operating in Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Thailand, Velotrade claims it is the first invoice financing platform to be regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong.
In May 2019, they had completed their first cross border trade financing transaction into Mainland China in collaboration with Qianhai Financial Assets Exchange.
In December, Velotrade teamed up with Hong Kong blockchain startup HashKey Digital Asset to build a trade finance platform that would leverage blockchain to drive greater efficiency, reduce costs and open up new revenue opportunities.
HashKey Digital Asset
HashKey Digital Asset is a fintech group and blockchain research institution which focuses on community engagement, system development, university research sponsorship, technology application, and strategic investment. The group has been involved in numerous initiatives involving the development of technology solutions including AI, big data, blockchains, and digital assets.
The group’s affiliates and brands include HashKey Pro, an institutional-grade, digital asset trading platform, and HashKey Capital, a token fund that has backed several notable startups in the blockchain space, including BlockFi, Terra and Blockfolio.
HashKey has a presence in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. Its partners include Fenbushi Capital, Circle, DBS, Ethereum, Cyberport and ZA International.
End of last year, HashKey had announced its submission of a license application to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission as they intend to operate a virtual asset trading platform in Hong Kong.
In addition to that, they had also announced that they had teamed up with gumi Cryptos Capital to invest in Tassat to accelerate blockchain-based digital cash adoption in Asia.
Regtics is a regtech startup that incorporates advanced analytics and machine learning into regulatory compliance solutions.
The company has developed a compliance solution that assists organizations, especially financial institutions, in complying with international and local anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulations using AI and big data technology. The solution contains five main modules: Know Your Customer, Name Screening, Customer Due Diligence, Transaction Monitoring and Investigation Bot.
Regtics is a member company of the Incu-Tech Programme by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC), and was recognized by the HKAI Lab Accelerator Program and TSSSU@HKU Award.
The startup recently won a 2019 ETNet Fintech Award in Big Data in the Outstanding Transaction Monitoring Big Data Solution category.
Founded in 2016, Crypto.com is a cryptocurrency and payments platform offering a range of products aimed at promoting the adoption of cryptocurrencies on a wider scale. The startup’s key products include the Crypto.com App, which allows users to buy, sell, and pay with crypto; the MCO Visa Card, a metal card with no annual fees; and the Crypto.com Chain, which enables users to pay and be paid in any crypto, anywhere, for free.
Crypto.com faced a temporary suspension of the card issuance in Singapore which has now been resolved when they switched over to a new vendor PayrNet.
Over the past year, Crypto.com launched several new features and products, including invoicing functionalities and a cryptocurrency exchange. It has also entered into partnerships with the likes of fintech provider Oveit, crypto tax providers Cointracker, CryptoTrader.tax, and Token Tax, hotel booking platform Travala.com, and crypto wallet management solution Ledger Vault.
They had also announced the appointment of Eric Anziana as their Chief Operating Officer.
Crypto.com claims more than 1 million users, and has raised US$26.7 million in funding so far, according to Crunchbase.
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Curious about what are the top fintech startups are in other Asian countries? Here’s a handy guide looking at the top fintech startups in Asia by country