2 Jan 2019
Finance Goes High-tech
Finance has been a pillar of Hong Kong’s economy for many years – visitors are always impressed by the glass towers of the Bank of China, HSBC and Bank of East Asia buildings which dominate the Central skyline.
The government is eager to diversify the economy, encouraging people, especially the young, to move into innovation and technology. Between the old pillar and the new pillar lies FinTech – which will be very much in focus at the 12th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) on 14-15 Jan 2019.
Organised by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the AFF will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) under the theme “Creating a Sustainable and Inclusive Future”.
This AFF will launch the new FinTech Showcase, which will feature discussions on a wide range of issues such as sustainable and inclusive development, global investment in the new economy, financial innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship, and the sharing economy.
World Bank Veteran
Former World Bank President Robert Zoellick will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon on the first day of the AFF. Mr Zoellick served as World Bank President from 2007 to 2012, as United States Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005 under President George W Bush, and as the US Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006. Mr Zoellick had played an important role in Sino-US relations over the years, participating in Mainland China’s 17 years of negotiations to join the World Trade Organization. During his term as World Bank President, he collaborated with the Development Research Center of the State Council to drive economic development in the mainland.
Mr Zoellick’s speech at the AFF will examine global economic prospects and the latest Sino-US trade situation, as well as ways to tackle innovation and achieve a more sustainable mode of development.
Sustainable and Inclusive Future
Diana Cesar, Chairperson, AFF Steering Committee and Chief Executive, Hong Kong, HSBC, said: “Now in its 12th year, the AFF has firmly established itself as a key event in Hong Kong for global policymakers, business leaders and global investors, setting the agenda for the year. Across Asia Pacific, continued economic growth has gone hand in hand with a growing consciousness that the quality of growth is as important as its speed. With the theme ‘Creating a Sustainable and Inclusive Future’, the latest AFF underpins this trend and the need to explore alternative economic growth models.”
The FinTech Showcase debuts at this AFF, enabling international financial institutions and technological enterprises to present their innovative applications and solutions to the industry. Exhibitors include HSBC, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, NEC and TNG FinTech Group. NEC will showcase a range of FinTech-related solutions that cover smart-city development, artificial intelligence, display products and servers that can help the industry to improve its competitiveness and efficiency.
The InnoTalks series returns to explore a series of technological issues relevant to the financial sector, including developments in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, FinTech, virtual banking, RegTech, InsurTech, blockchain, technology investment and internet security.
The series will give the industry comprehensive insights into innovative FinTech developments that can help to boost competitiveness.
Another key returnee is the AFF Deal Flow Matchmaking Session, co-organised by the HKTDC and Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. Last year’s AFF Deal Flow arranged more than 600 one-on-one meetings for 500 companies on more than 500 investment projects. Sectors covered included manufacturing and green technology, FinTech, digital technology, healthcare technology, infrastructure and real-estate services, environmental protection, energy and agriculture.
Start-ups will have a special place at the 12th AFF. The InnoVenture Salon will make its second appearance, on an expanded scale and with enriched content, making it the ideal platform to connect start-up companies with potential investors and partners. Start-ups will showcase their products and ideas at exhibition booths, and present their business plans at Demo Hours. Fireside Chat will feature industry pioneers from Hong Kong, Germany and the US who will share insights into artificial intelligence and blockchain technology applications, financial and regulatory technology, biotech and healthcare technology, providing practical tips on becoming a successful entrepreneur. Industry experts will offer practical tips on growing a successful start-up business at the Startup Clinic, while fledgling companies can enjoy one-on-one meetings with business partners through Investor Alley, helping them to share their financing needs with potential investors.
The sharing economy has developed rapidly over the past five years, revolutionising many traditional sectors of the economy. PwC reports that the sharing economy will be worth more than US$330 billion (HK$2.58 trillion) worldwide by 2025, up from a mere US$15 billion four years ago. The sharing economy has found applications in sectors ranging from catering to car hire, and as technology advances it is expected that it will also transform the financial-services industry. To give industry players a better understanding of the market situation, the keynote luncheon on the second day will feature April Rinne, Founder, Advisor & Investor, April Worldwide; Head of the Sharing Economy Working Group, World Economic Forum YGL. Ms Rinne will discuss the latest developments in the sharing economy and ways the industry can use financing channels such as peer-to-peer lending/insurance, crowdfunding and social-payment facilities to improve efficiency and stay competitive, helping create a sustainable financial environment.
Panel Discussion Launch
The 12th AFF will launch four new Panel Discussion sessions on the afternoon of the first day. Influential policymakers and business leaders will examine topics ranging from global investment in the new economy and financial innovation to start-ups and entrepreneurship, and insurance. Heavyweight speakers include Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO, Charoen Pokphand Group; Chen Siqing, Chairman, Bank of China; Denis Duverne, Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, AXA Group; John Flint, Group Chief Executive, HSBC; Justin Gong, Co-Founder & Vice President, XAG; Nobuyuki Hirano, President & Group CEO, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc; Soul Htite, Chairman and founder of Dianrong; Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners; Lim Guan Eng, Malaysia’s Minister of Finance; Wang Zhaoxing, Vice Chairman, China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission; and Max Yuan, founder and Chairman, Xiao-i.
Sponsored again by the Financial Services Development Council, Hong Kong, the Breakfast Panel will be moderated by Council Chairman Laurence Li on the theme “Hong Kong’s Role in the Changing Multilateral Trade Landscape”. The panellists include Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, HKSAR Government; Victor Fung, Group Chairman, Fung Group; Benjamin Hung, Regional Chief Executive Officer, Greater China & North Asia and Chief Executive Officer, Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Standard Chartered Bank; and John Slosar, Chairman of the Hong Kong – United States Business Council (Hong Kong Section) and Chairman, Cathay Pacific Airways Limited.
Together they will explore the opportunities and risks for Hong Kong against the backdrop of recent economic and geopolitical developments, looking at what the city should do to safeguard its position as a leading international financial centre.
Asian Financial Forum (AFF)