Hong Kong universities are set to receive a USD 20 million grant through government funding for research and development projects in blockchain and fintech.
In an effort to drive blockchain into administrative and financial sectors, Hong Kong is asking its universities to delve deep and come up with answers. The major beneficiaries of this round of specific funding are Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), along with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
Through the project, along with research and development tasks, the universities are also required to report on Hong Kong’s current progress in becoming a fintech regional hub. Professor Tan Jiayin, known for his previous research work entitled ‘Strengthening Hong Kong’s Strategic Position as a Regional and International Business Center’, is to head up the multi-university research project.
Hong Kong’s blockchain push is an attempt to catch up with some of the more fintech proactive countries in the region such as Singapore and Japan. Updating aspects of the financial sector have recently become a focus for private companies and government bodies, who are beginning to regard blockchain technology as a way of modernizing record keeping and speeding up payments, in what is often described as an overly paper-driven industry, particularly given the technologies available today.
Work such as professor Jiayin’s which has already explored blockchain technology, network security, and artificial intelligence learning, as it relates to the current economic climate, will be a boost to the shared university partnership. Jiayin has asked Hong Kong’s banking community to participate in the research as part of the grant relates to the creation of digital currencies, although these have been looked on unfavourably by HK banks in the past, discounting the idea of a CBDC. In an announcement on 30 May, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) decided against the idea.
However, the HKMA announced the launch of a blockchain trade finance solution in partnership with 21 regional banks last month. Also, seven banks including Hong Kong’s banking regulator are to launch a trade finance platform this September using blockchain, including HSBC and Standard Chartered. Notably, HSBC’s Monex digital currency concept in 1998 was reportedly the professor’s brainchild.
The push towards integrating blockchain into Hong Kong’s administrative and financial sectors is not the first after a government plan was released in 2017 to produce a blockchain-based trade financing system to increase settlement efficiency and reduce fraud. This after a heightened level of concern around the cryptocurrency space due to high levels of fraud.
Research recently revealed that the percentage of financial crime involving cryptocurrencies was in fact comparatively low, when compared to other methods of, largely organized, crime in the city.
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