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Speech by SITI at Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022 (English only)
     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Innovation, Technology and Industry, Professor Sun Dong, at the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022 today (November 1):
Distinguished speakers, honourable guests, ladies and gentlemen, 

     Good afternoon. A warm welcome to all of you here in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and to our online audience to the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022. I am honoured to join all the elites from different parts of the world and explore how to scale up our fintech ecosystem together. 

     Being a top international financial centre, Hong Kong enjoys a host of favourable conditions and unique advantages for fintech development. According to the latest Global Financial Centres Index published in September 2022, I am delighted to learn that we ranked as the fourth most competitive financial centre in the world. Speaking of fintech, we are one of the top 10 most vibrant fintech hubs in the world. We are currently home to 600 fintech companies, including eight virtual banks and four virtual insurers, offering innovative and convenient financial services.
I&T flagships

     Over the years, our two flagship I&T (innovation and technology) organisations, Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science Park, have been tasked as the key drivers in the fintech development of Hong Kong. Cyberport now hosts the city's biggest fintech community with about 400 companies covering blockchain, mobile payment, AI (articial intelligence) and programme trading etc. Out of the six Cyberport start-ups reaching unicorn status, half of them are fintech companies.  

     Cyberport has been taking forward a wide range of initiatives to enhance our fintech ecosystem. For start-ups, the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund and Cyberport Macro Fund are in place to provide funding to support innovative ideas and early-stage development. The Cyberport Incubation Programme also provides comprehensive financial, technical and business advisory support to tech start-ups. 

     Financial and professional support aside, Cyberport strives to enrich the fintech talent pool and promote the adoption of fintech applications in the traditional financial industries. The Cyberport University Partnership Programme has been hosted for seven consecutive years. Over 400 students have participated in entrepreneurship training offered by renowned overseas universities and developed insights of fintech careers. Following the success in 2020, Cyberport is entrusted by the Government to hold another round of the Financial Practitioners FinTech Training Programme this year with an aim to benefit some 1 500 financial practitioners.  

     Meanwhile, the Cyberport 5 expansion project is expected to be completed in 2025, which will increase the gross floor area of Cyberport by over 40 per cent. Different clusters, including fintech, could benefit from the enhanced development capacity. I am confident that we will witness more ground-breaking fintech innovations in the near future.  

     In addition, the Science Park also accommodates some 90 companies engaging in the R&D (research and development) of various fintech solutions. Following the opening of FinTech Centre and the launch of Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Accelerator, the FinTech Virtual Lab was also established in November 2021. Supported by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), the Virtual Lab provides a platform for financial institutions and tech ventures to build and test their latest fintech innovations. They could speed up their R&D activities and commercialisation in order to capitalise on the new growth opportunities and facilitate cross-industry innovation.

Digital infrastructure

     Digital infrastructure is another key to propel the fintech development. Since its launch in September 2018, the Faster Payment System (FPS) has become the core part of Hong Kong's financial infrastructure. As of this September, it is impressive to know that FPS has recorded over 11 million registrations and over 600 million real-time transactions involving $5.7 trillion. The FPS now supports merchant payment, account top-up and payment of Government bills and fees, etc. Over 80 per cent of Government departments provide FPS service as a payment option. In the next two years, more public services will accept FPS payments, thereby bringing greater convenience to all citizens in Hong Kong.  

     Meanwhile, the HKMA is also developing at full steam the Commercial Data Interchange (CDI). Through this centralised platform, enterprises, particularly SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), can authorise service providers such as payment systems, public bodies or utility companies to furnish the banks with data. The banks could then conduct more accurate credit risk assessments to enhance efficiency in trade finance. The CDI is expected to be launched by end of this year.

     In order to take forward the strategy of opening up government data in a more holistic manner, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer under my bureau will explore the development of a standardised API (Application Programming Interface) to enable data sharing by more government departments through the CDI. I am certain that this new function would make the CDI more sophisticated and useful. 
GBA opportunities

     In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to promote another key attraction of Hong Kong - our central role in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) development. Our strategic location gives fintech companies direct access to a city cluster with a population of over 80 million. According to research by professional services firm Accenture last year, over half of Hong Kong's firms in the fintech sector are already actively investing in the GBA, and around a quarter of them are eager to invest in the future.

     In view of this growing trend, the HKMA and the People's Bank of China have jointly launched a one-stop platform for financial institutions and technology firms to conduct pilot trials of cross-boundary fintech initiatives earlier this year. They could obtain early feedback and expedite the launch of fintech products. So far, more than 20 firms in Hong Kong have expressed interest in the platform while two banks have completed their pilot runs and are preparing for a full launch.  

     Through the "Hong Kong/Guangdong Expert Group on Co-operation in Informatisation", jointly established by the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, we are proactively exploring the use of e-wallets in Hong Kong to achieve "two-way cross-border payment". We are also driving forward the adoption of mobile payment technologies such as QR codes on the mobility service platform in the GBA. These initiatives would be conducive to the development of cross-border payments and facilitate Hong Kong residents living in the GBA to make payments anytime, anywhere.  

     Before I close, I wish to highlight some of our key initiatives in the 2022 Policy Address announced just two weeks ago. We will strive to enhance our I&T ecosystem by earmarking additional funds to support commercialisation of R&D results. We will also enlarge our I&T talent pool by attracting top-notch talent to Hong Kong and enhancing our existing technology talent schemes. We will also establish a dedicated office, namely the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises, to help attract high-potential and representative strategic enterprises from around the globe, particularly those from industries of strategic importance, such as fintech among others. All these new initiatives will inject strong impetus to our I&T development, including the vibrant growth of the fintech cluster.

     Hong Kong is poised to scale new heights in fintech innovation. Combining a range of forward-looking initiatives and the support from different stakeholders, Hong Kong shall continue to be an ideal launchpad for start-ups to become fintech leaders regionally and globally.  

     May I wish you all a most rewarding exchange and meaningful experience at the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022. Thank you very much.
Ends/Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:52
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