Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) has announced that it is considering investments in blockchain and other fintech companies through acquisitions next year.
If this materializes, it will represent a change in direction for the exchange which has close relationships with China. Hong Kong, being an autonomous territory of China, has a political system independent from the rest of the country, affecting both the economy and its commercial system. Many Chinese businesses have moved their operations to Hong Kong after China’s crackdown on ICOs and cryptocurrency in general. These included the world’s largest exchange, Binance, which moved from Beijing to Hong Kong and other locations around the globe to escape punitive legislation.
The territory is now laying claim to becoming a major hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain in the region, even creating a recent “talent list” to employ more industry professionals to support its DLT focus in the years to come through a new employment program. A fintech lead at InvestHK reflected on Hong Kong’s push towards blockchain:
“Blockchain is a very high priority for us. There is hype, and there is the fast grab of money with ICOs in some cases. But what we are looking at building here in Hong Kong is an infrastructure for new businesses and existing businesses, to make sure the technology and innovations remain a key enabler for financial sector growth.”
Unconfirmed sources suggest that Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, is now looking at blockchain and has had meetings with both potential start-ups and established companies. Concern remains about the current poor relationship between China and the US, and how this might affect businesses in Hong Kong. This is a possible reason why the exchange is considering adopting its own venture capital model similar to that of Nasdaq.
Earlier this month, HKEX senior managers had discussed possible acquisitions and more, the results of which will be revealed next year. Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment, told Bloomberg, “The strategy is in the right direction but it is not easy to achieve the targets. HKEX needs to maintain a momentum of growth by exploring new businesses.”
In March, Financial Times reported that HKEX was collaborating with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) to implement blockchain. Perhaps, this is an indication of the direction the exchange is willing to take when it reveals its plans next year. Blockchain company acquisitions may be on the table.
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