In September, unveiling a fintech innovation initiative resembling one previously launched by Singapores central bank (see Sopnendu Mohanty, No. 34), Hong Kong Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan sought to debunk what he termed a quite commonly held perception that the development of fintech in the financial services sector in Hong Kong has been slow. Although it may not match Singapores level of activity, Hong Kong has been heating up for at least the two years since Janos Barberis founded FinTech Hong Kong. The networking and events hub currently lists on its website 64 start-ups P2P lender 5D Lend Co. and Bitcoin exchange Gatecoin, to name two and claims nearly 2,000 influencers, mentors, and enthusiasts as members. CEO Barberis also brought to the Hong Kong ecosystem the SuperCharger accelerator, which offers mentoring and other assistance to what it calls start-ups and scale-ups, with supporting partners that include Fidelity International, Standard Chartered, and Thomson Reuters. Eight winners, including Gatecoin and Chinese credit scoring company Wecash, presented at the inaugural demo day, in April. SuperCharger went on a road show in September and October, stopping at Bangalore, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Shanghai, and Singapore; its second 12-week accelerator program starts in January. The world is looking east, proclaims Barberis, noting that while U.S. and European fintech funding declined in the first quarter, Asia was up 20 percent year-over-year. To the 28-year-old, who earned a law degree at the University of Hong Kong, worked at U.K. challenger bank Lintel Financial Services, and co-edited The Fintech Book (published by John Wiley & Sons in April), Hong Kong is an ideal base. He is plugged in locally as a member of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission fintech advisory group and from there is able to monitor high-tech hotbeds on the Chinese mainland and, in other emerging markets, how digital-identity and know-your-customer technologies make banks more easily accessible and promote financial inclusion. This has true transformative potential and shows how Asia, and particularly India, is paving the way in terms of the potential achievable with fintech, Barberis says.
The 2016 Fintech Finance 35 Click below to view profiles