Category Archives: Hong Kong FinTech Week

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Hong Kong Regulator: Sandbox First, Crypto Licences Could Follow

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is proposing a sandbox approach to cryptocurrency regulation. The idea was tabled by SFC chief executive Ashley Alder during a speech to delegates at this week’s Hong Kong Fintech Week 2018.

Alder said Hong Kong has seen the arrival of some of the worlds biggest platforms but there exists “a sizeable population of investors who have an interest in trading virtual assets through unregulated trading platforms”. A sandbox approach would allow the regulator to discover if it would be appropriate for crypto exchange operators to be regulated, Alder argued.

“If, and only if, we decide at the Sandbox stage that we should regulate, we would consider granting a license… the platform would then be subject to intensive reporting and monitoring to ensure that strict internal controls operate as expected and investor interests are protected.”

In a recent survey conducted by the Hong Kong Blockchain Association (HKBA), it was revealed that 23% of Hong Kong residents would consider investing in cryptocurrencies, given a recession. The response was based on the fact that many respondents anticipated a downturn in the world economy within the next year. Reportedly, a large portion of those surveyed would consider investing in cryptocurrency, despite their current concerns about digital currencies outweighing their potential advantages. Relevant to SFC concerns expressed at the Hong Kong Fintech Week was the fact that 60% of the respondents indicated that they felt that clear regulations and proper licensing laws were needed for cryptocurrency exchanges.

Alder said that the SFC had plans to clarify new regulatory standards for fund managers and that those investors coming on board with a mixed portfolio of more than 10% of virtual assets would need to follow the new requirements, regardless of whether the assets were “securities” or “futures contracts”. In the meantime, only professional investors should be allowed to trade until further guidance from the regulator is made public. The sandbox idea appears to fill in the cracks until more lasting regulatory plans can be formulated. In February the SFC said that it would crack down on unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges.

Meanwhile, the blockchain sector is beginning to feel the pinch with a lack of qualified professionals to fill positions. A “talent list” has been issued by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in which it states that it needs “quality people from around the world in a more effective and focused manner to support Hong Kong’s development as a high value-added and diversified economy”. Among the 11 professions on the new list are those with DLT skills.


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Hong Kong Sees Green as Ireland Comes to Fintech Week

Hong Kong FinTech Week was certainly a productive few days for two visiting companies from Ireland, both opening doors to the Far East with newly-secured deals.

The green army descended on Hong Kong this week with no fewer than 14 Irish fintech firms showing their wares as part of the #IrishAdvantage Enterprise Ireland’s trade mission to China; representation aimed at promoting tech in payments, banking, insurtech, cloud communications and biometrics.

The two successful companies, Global Shares and Know Your Customer, appear to be leading a charge from the Irish Republic with, Daon, CurrencyFair, Solgari, Fenergo, Leveris, Fineos, Corylitics, Intuition, Priviti, Fexco, Kyckr and Circit also attending.

Global Shares are now celebrating a USD 15 million deal with online brokerage firm Huanying International, with plans to provided a range of financial services. The other successful company, smart technology client verification solution provider Know Your Customer (KYC), has partnered up with Hong Kong-based fintech company Neat Limited to enhance that company’s AML processes more effectively. Republic of Ireland Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys commented:

“The deals we’ve seen formalized today by Global Shares, Know Your Customer and CurrencyFair at Hong Kong Fintech Week demonstrate how much value Irish fintech companies can deliver to partners worldwide… It’s heartening to see recognition from companies the world over for the Irish fintech advantage.”

Early this year, another Irish company, Dublin-headquartered money transfer player CurrencyFair, broke into the Asian market. With an EUR 20 million investment drive, the Irish company acquired Hong Kong’s Convoy Payments, not only opening up business to Hong Kong and Asia but also to giving CurrencyFair access to existing US markets.

The recent Irish successes are not unusual, according to Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon, who suggested that Irish companies usually fare well in doing businesses in Hong Kong and was pleased to see these successes, adding:

“Between them, these companies have secured significant wins with some of the world’s leading financial services companies in Hong Kong such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China as well as local Hong Kong entities such as the Securities & Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Jockey Club.”


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