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Speech by FS at FinTech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific 2014 Investor Day (English only) (with photo/ video)

     Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific 2014 Investor Day today (December 4):

Sushil, Adrian, Henek, Herman, ladies and gentlemen.

     Good afternoon.

     I am indeed delighted to join you all today for the FinTech Innovation Lab Asia Pacific Investor Day.

     As far as special days go, this one is really a mouthful. But I must say that it's an ambitious, well-considered mouthful. Indeed, in a handful of words, it covers just about everything that we are focused on these days. And not just here in Hong Kong, but around the world over a really wide spread of interests.

     So my congratulations to Accenture and Cyberport for bringing the FinTech Innovation Lab here to Hong Kong, following FinTech's first two launches - in New York and London.

     In just a few years' time, this accelerator programme for finance and technology has attracted start-ups from all over the world. Moreover, it has brought together leading global financial services institutions, as well as angel investors and venture capital firms.

     That it has been so successful is, of course, due to the creative individuals taking part, and the technological solutions that they've brought to the financial world. Solutions grounded in commerce at its most innovative.

     So my congratulations to the eight teams chosen for this inaugural FinTech Asia Pacific competition.

     No easy task, given that nearly 100 start-ups took part in the competition. Sushil told me earlier your business proposals had to balance innovation and ingenuity with need and practicality. You also faced a rigorous interview process, with a host of challenges from the judges. And that demanded resilience as well as innovation. It also tested team spirit and the ability to collaborate throughout a lengthy process, which are essential factors to any successful start-up.

     Financial technology start-ups, in particular, are taking off all over the world. Indeed, global investment in financial technology ventures has more than tripled - from about US$1 billion in 2008 to nearly US$3 billion in 2013. And over this same period, the volume of financial technology deals has also soared - by more than 200 per cent. And that certainly underlines the enormous potential of this sector.

     And why? Why has financial technology captured the imagination of so many companies - and so much money? Because it offers two things that we dearly value: convenience and security.

     Consider convenience. You remember the good old days? And they seem just like yesterday for old folks like us. The younger people in the audience probably don't remember this, but there used to be long queues outside banks, waiting to check stock prices. Can you imagine that? Today, with the proliferation of smartphones and mobile apps, you get your stock quotes anytime, anywhere. And you can easily squeeze in a few trades while waiting for the next bus. Or listening to me right now. I see a few fingers moving out there - hope you are making some money.

     Yet all this convenience is in vain if security is at risk, or perceived to be at risk. That's the beauty of financial technology. Using a variety of authentication systems and means, it minimises the prevention of identity fraud in the use of online banking. And by requiring more than one independent factor - a login password plus a one-time password through instant messaging, for example - user identity can be better verified.

     More than raising the comfort level of users, as well as security, that drives the development of the financial services industry.

     And there's more to financial technology than safeguarding business on the go. The field of big-data analytics, for example, is expanding. And this technology helps firms find value in the huge amounts of data that they work with on a daily basis. Banks can now make use of big-data analytics to identify risks, fight financial fraud, visualise market trends as well as identify growth opportunities.

     As Winston Churchill once said, "To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often."

     The relentless tide of technology spares no one. I encourage our financial services sector to seize the opportunities offered by financial technology. And I am confident you'll reap the rewards.

     To start-ups focused on this area of unlimited promise, I have one simple message: "Stay ahead of the game." Rather than tracking the well-worn flow, anticipate customer needs and market changes. Lead rather than follow.

     So once again, my thanks to Accenture for bringing this trailblazing initiative to Hong Kong.

     I wish you all continuing innovation, and the best of business. Wherever that leads you.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, December 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:01


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