Hong Kong Fintech Week returned in 2019 with an action-packed and insightful program
By Nayantara Bhat
Hong Kong Fintech Week opened for its 2019 show on November 4, with a five-day program packed with informative conferences, influential speakers, and thought leaders from across the globe.
While the conference was held from November 6 to 7, the week encompassed much more than just a tech conference. Monday and Tuesday (November 4 to 5) showcased Hong Kong’s local and international startup ecosystem players. With venues spanning the city–from hidden bars to swanky office towers–attendees and speakers had their pick of the informative and often boozy events on offer.
Sessions ranged from panel discussions to facilities tours held by Hong Kong’s innovation labs and entrepreneurship support organizations like Cyberport, to the launches of various acceleration programs and new product offerings. While many were held by homegrown organizations like the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong and the Smart City Innovation Centre, multiple chambers of commerce seized the opportunity to shine a spotlight on their countries’ most innovative fintech startups.
The main conference, held at AsiaWorld-Expo from November 6 to 7, focused on the following areas of fintech: Virtual Banks, Blockchain in Finance, Payments & Remittances, Great Bay Area Fintech, InsurTech, Lending, Wealthtech & InvestTech, and Hardcore Tech. The wealth of panels, keynotes, and fireside chats on these topics were spread across five stages, from the Global Stage to the Experience Stage, where live demos of products and solutions were conducted.
Panels took deep dives into topics of relevance in each area, with most stages packed with attendees eager to hear leaders of the world’s most prominent fintech startups, banks, and financial institutions. Panelists often circled back to a handful of themes, but one, in particular, came up in almost every discussion: data. Whether the talk revolved around data collection, data privacy, or effectively using data to provide relevant financial services, the passionate delivery of every response went a long way toward establishing how fundamentally important it is to the fintech space.
PwC Global Artificial Intelligence Lead Anand Rao summed up why data is so vital to the financial industry during the Fintech & Technology Innovation panel.
“Each person is very unique, and each instance is very unique […] it’s not whether someone is old or young, it’s that particular individual,” Rao said. “What exactly is it that they have transacted before, and what are they likely to do in the future?”
Later, during the Investing in FinTech: Hype vs. Reality panel, J.P. Morgan Chase Managing Director Jing Ulrich offered illuminating comments on the near future of fintech investing.
“The global banking environment has become more challenging, given the global slowdown in the economy, and the trade tension between US and China,” she said.
“However, we’ve seen there’s still a lot of interest in technology companies and fintech companies. We speak to many startups, we speak to companies that are ready for listing all the time.”
Ulrich’s advice to companies in need of raising capital was to take advantage of any capital market window to do so, citing potential recessions next year and 2021, and increased market volatility due to the US presidential elections.
“On the investor side, I would say global institutions have become a lot more discerning, a lot more selective in terms of which deals they participate in,” she added.
The event also provided opportunities for startups to display their solutions and network with attendees. Exhibitions such as Fintech Week often prove beneficial for startups looking to gain traction, investors, or other means of growing their businesses.
Wallace Chow, who is responsible for business development and product design at AI compliance control platform Regtics, says the startup exhibited at Fintech
Week to get exposure to the market and showcase their product to financial institutions.
“We all know Fintech Week is one of the signature events in Hong Kong. We want to focus on the opportunity and showcase our solution,” he said.