Hong Kong’s Chief Executive outlines key fintech initiatives
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority will soon launch the Faster Payment System, and a common QR code enabling mobile payment is also on its way.
Hong Kong is set to enjoy a raft of fintech initiatives soon, Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in a speech earlier today.
Mrs Lam noted that the Hong Kong Government has targeted Fintech as a key technology area to focus on and invest in. She stressed that fintech investment in Hong Kong has spiralled in recent years, from about US$108 million in 2015 to US$216 million in 2016, and some US$546 million last year.
In order to propel this momentum, the Government and Hong Kong’s regulators are ready to launch a raft of Fintech initiatives, Mrs Lam explained. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) will very soon launch the Faster Payment System. It is set to establish full connectivity between banks and stored value facility operators. That would lead to around-the-clock, real-time fund transfer for peer-to-peer and merchant payments. One will only need to register his mobile phone number or email address with a bank or stored value facility account in order to allow payments to be made to him/her anytime, anywhere.
A common QR code enabling mobile payment is also on its way. A number of stored value facility operators are already providing QR code payments at various locations. To expand mobile retail payment and provide greater convenience for both merchants and customers, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the industry have agreed upon a common QR code standard, which will soon be launched publicly.
Mrs Lam also noted the importance of the new business model of virtual banking. In May, the HKMA issued revised guidelines for the authorisation of virtual banks. It has received about 30 virtual bank applications to date, ranging from telecommunications operators and Fintech companies to global banks. The HKMA aims to start granting licences to virtual banks by the first quarter of next year.
Chinese financial technology company 9F Group is reported to be among those seeking a virtual banking license in Hong Kong. In June this year, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited unveiled its plans to apply for a virtual banking license in Hong Kong.
The concept of “virtual banks” is becoming more popular in Hong Kong, according to a recent survey, which was conducted during the second half of June 2018 and covered 811 local SMEs. The study shows that whereas 46% of surveyed SMEs have heard about “Virtual Bank”, 23% are reluctant to adopt virtual banking service. For those interested in using the service, “Cybersecurity” (77%) and “System stability” (61%) are the key factors in service selection.