With the granting of eight virtual banking licenses in 2019, Hong Kong is now one step closer to becoming a cashless economy, with digital wallets and virtual banks increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives.
At a webinar on 16 June, Emily Leung, Senior Analyst at Euromonitor International (Hong Kong), shed light on how digital payment technologies are reshaping Hong Kong’s payment landscape and promoting financial inclusion. She said that Hong Kong had observed a spike in debit card transactions in 2020, driven by the popularity of contactless payments and digital wallets. Other factors included the development of penetration strategies in the virtual bank market, and financial inclusion initiatives that encourage consumer spending.
The London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (LIBOR) – the most widely used interest rate benchmark in the world to date – will be discontinued as early as 2021 for major currencies such as the British Pound and the US Dollar.
At a webinar on 9 June, Jenny Huang and Jasmine Lee, both Partners at EY, detailed the major implications of these changes in relation to areas including contract management, interest rates and accounting practices. They also shared tips on how corporates can prepare for the impending changes in light of the global movement towards alternative reference rates.
Nearly 200 people attended our webinar on 12 May where a distinguished line-up of speakers discussed ways to promote Hong Kong as a premier regional hub for sustainable finance.
Chamber Chairman Peter Wong welcomed Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Eddie Yue and the Securities and Futures Commission Chief Executive Officer Ashley Alder, who delivered the keynote remarks.
The first panel included Ellie Tang, Head of Sustainability at New World Development, and Robert Barker, Chief Sustainable Business Officer at BNP Paribas, who spoke respectively on the development of sustainable bonds and the role of the banking sector in helping Hong Kong corporates tap into the global sustainable finance market.
Their fellow panellist Grace Hui, Head of Green and Sustainable Finance of the Markets Division at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, provided an overview of the Sustainable & Green Exchange (STAGE) platform established by the market operator to create transparency in the local sustainable finance market. She was joined by Nishad Majmudar, Assistant Vice President and Analyst of Sovereign Risk Group at Moody's Investors Service, who explained how governments in the Asia Pacific region helped accelerate the adoption of sustainable finance as well as the challenges they faced.
Dylan Bryant, Co-chair of the Insurance Working Group at the Hong Kong Green Finance Association and David Day, Head of North Asia of Data & Analytics at the London Stock Exchange Group, were among the speakers in the second panel. Bryant provided an insurance and risk management perspective while Day shared his insights on data aggregation in sustainable finance. Amy Lo, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Private Wealth Management Association, was also on hand to speak on the latest sustainable investment trends and talent supply.
The Chamber is grateful to the following organisations for their support of the event: The Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association, the Hong Kong Green Finance Association, the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute, and the International Association of CFOs and Corporate Treasurers (China).
The Wealth Management Connect (WMC) scheme, announced in June last year, will enable residents in Hong Kong, Macao and the nine Greater Bay Area cities in Guangdong Province to invest in wealth management products across the whole GBA. Although details for the WMC have yet to be fleshed out, a joint Memorandum of Understanding signed in February 2021 serves as a significant milestone in laying out a road map for the scheme’s design and implementation.
At a Chamber webinar on 23 April, Donald Chen, Senior Advisor (External) at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, explained that the scheme will allow global financial institutions to capitalize on GBA opportunities without having to establish a presence in the Mainland or obtain a license, through partnering with an onshore bank.
In the panel discussion that followed, Greg Hingston, Regional Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, Asia Pacific at HSBC; Angel Ng, CEO at Citi Hong Kong and Macao, and Sally Wong, CEO at the Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, discussed the opportunities and challenges arising from the implementation of the WMC. These included the role that the financial industry will play in distributing products through the scheme, as well as the scope of products that will be available, and the tax implications for investors.
The Summit of Unsolved Problems -- or SOUP Summit -- a cross-border initiative from the CUHK Business School and Shenzhen Finance Institute of CUHK-Shenzhen, will take place on 7 May. Its aim is to pool ideas from small and large businesses to produce practical and innovative technology backed solutions for many of the shared challenges they face. Solving these bottlenecks will benefit not just the businesses involved, but also academics and society at large.
At a webinar on 22 March, Ling Cen, Associate Professor at CUHK Business School and Associate Director of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Finance Research Centre, shared more details about the SOUP Summit. He explained that it is the first of its kind in Asia, and would serve as a platform to connect industry practitioners with researchers to help businesses to find the right tools and strategies to address their problems and generate positive social impact. For more details about the Summit, please visit here.
Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are the digital form of a nation's currency -- backed and issued by a central monetary authority -- which can be used to facilitate transactions in an increasingly digitalised world. CBDCs are not widely available yet, but Mainland China is currently piloting a “digital yuan,” and other central banks around the world are considering creating their own digital currencies. This global shift is largely driven by the recognition that CBDCs have the potential to not only transform payments, but also promote financial inclusion and address the economic challenges brought on by Covid-19.
At a webinar on 27 January, Colin Pou, Executive Director (Financial Infrastructure) at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, introduced Project Inthanon-LionRock, a joint initiative between the HKMA and the Bank of Thailand, which is currently at the second stage of development. Pou explained the potential of Inthanon-LionRock to enable the use of CBDCs for wholesale and cross-border payments.
In the panel discussion that followed, Daniel Chan, Head of Blockchain Innovation Lab at FORMS HK; Charles d'Haussy, Director of ConsenSys; and Benedicte Nolens, Head of the Innovation Hub at the Bank for International Settlements, discussed the future of CBDCs, including their global and local development, design technology, opportunities and challenges, and impact on businesses. The panelists also shared their insights on how businesses can prepare for the onset of CBDCs by building capacity in areas including talent, infrastructure and compliance.
In 2019, Hong Kong became the first jurisdiction in the Asia Pacific region to pass an annual review conducted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regarding the compliance and effectiveness of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regimes worldwide.
The Hong Kong Government recently launched a public consultation on its plans to introduce a new framework to govern the activities of virtual asset service providers and dealers in precious metals and stones. The aim of this framework is to align Hong Kong’s existing regime with the latest international requirements from the FATF, a global inter-governmental agency.
Eureka Cheung, Principal Assistant Secretary for Financial Services at the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau; Clara Chiu, Director of Licensing and Head of Fintech Unit, Intermediaries at the Securities and Futures Commission; and Grace Tang, Group Head (Financial Investigation Group), Syndicate Crimes Investigation Bureau from the Customs and Excise Department, explained the details of the consultation exercise at a webinar on 8 January, and took questions from members about the proposed changes.