Hong Kong’s Fintech Industry Booms As Consumers Turn To Mobile Solutions

01 Mar 2021

Hong Kong’s Fintech Industry Booms As Consumers Turn To Mobile Solutions

Forbes
Hong Kong’s Fintech Industry Booms As Consumers Turn To Mobile Solutions

For most industries, the pandemic has brought a variety of setbacks and challenges, but for others—such as fintech—the need for remote access and increased dependency on mobile technology has accelerated growth. This has been particularly true in Hong Kong, where the fintech industry is dynamic and fast-growing, both in terms of innovation and fundraising, with 60% of funding in the city targeting new economy stocks in 2020.

Since announcing its support of the concept in 2017, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has licensed eight virtual banks, all of which launched during 2020. Offering features such as near-instant account openings, 24/7 access and a full suite of financial services that can be performed remotely, virtual banks have found a receptive user base in Hong Kong at a time when most bricks-and-mortar banks have had to curtail their physical operations due to Covid-19 related restrictions.

Hong Kong’s only homegrown virtual bank, WeLab Bank, was among the first to launch. Founder and Group CEO of parent company WeLab, Simon Loong, says, “Hong Kong is a perfect landing pad for fintech companies eyeing opportunities in Asia. With its established and vibrant ecosystem, the city has enabled fintechs like WeLab to innovate and develop, and then expand to Greater China and beyond.”

Loong also believes that the fintech industry’s runway for growth is substantial. He points to customers’ evolving financial needs and mindset, and the benefits brought about by tech-enabled features that are changing people’s habits. “We’ve already seen customers taking advantage of the 24/7 fully remote access and user-centric experiences presented by virtual banks,” he says. “Virtual banks will become the norm in the next five years.”

The regtech pioneer iFinGate, which focuses on compliance and regulatory automation, is a Hong Kong-based company that recorded impressive growth in 2020, onboarding more than 500 financial institutions and licensed corporate clients. “Clients in Hong Kong have become more receptive to online services and regulatory compliance,” notes CEO William Lam.

Lam also highlights the support of Hong Kong Cyberport Management, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the University of Hong Kong as crucial to this success. He also points to the “well recognized legal system, and easy access to excellent talent resources in multidisciplines, which provide a strong backbone for Hong Kong to build and position as an important fintech hub.”

Airwallex—a digital global payment platform—is another company thriving in Hong Kong’s vibrant fintech scene. “From day one, we set out with a purpose to empower businesses of all sizes to grow beyond borders,” says Lucy Liu, Cofounder and President of Airwallex.

Liu says the company was attracted by “Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center, which is key for our global expansion.” She adds, “We also see the incredible opportunities Hong Kong presents as the bridge of financial innovation between China and the rest of the world in addition to its robust and transparent legal and regulatory framework.”

During the pandemic, Airwallex’s growth continued apace. “With more businesses now operating online, Airwallex has been at the center of this evolution,” Liu says. In the second half of 2020, Airwallex saw a 50% increase in its global customer base while its net revenue doubled.

Building on that momentum, the company plans to fill more than 300 open roles this year to support its global expansion, using Hong Kong as its base. “The fintech industry—in Hong Kong and the rest of the world—is primed for growth, as fintechs will play an integral part of economic recovery post-2020,” Liu says.

via Forbes

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