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FinTech Trends: Interview with FinTech Association of Hong Kong


In this newsletter, we continue our coverage of the FinTech sector. After discussing key developments and introducing innovative FinTech companies with significant social impact, we are now highlighting local leaders who are shaping the FinTech landscape across Asia. Our journey begins with the Hong Kong S.A.R. (‘Hong Kong’), a unique territory within China.


Our first interview features Antony Morris, a seasoned FinTech venture builder and a board member of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong (FTAHK), alongside insights from FTAHK’s Chair, Neil Tan.


Antony, with his extensive experience in driving digital transformation in financial services, provides unique insights into the role of FTAHK. He emphasizes Hong Kong's distinctive position within the Asian FinTech sphere, with its blend of traditional financial systems and next generation technology based financial services, creating an optimal environment for FinTech innovation.


Wrapping up our conversation, Antony's reflection on the passionate community within FTAHK and his belief in their collective drive and spirit underscore the on-going potential of the FinTech sector.


 

Edward: Good to see you again. It was a real pleasure working together with you for the FinTech community when I was a Co-Chair of FinTech Association of Hong Kong. As our newsletter has a broad audience outside Hong Kong, could you give us an overview of FTAHK and explain your role within the organization?


Antony Morris: Good to see you as well Edward. FTAHK was founded as a not-for-profit company in 2017 with the aim of representing the voice of the Hong Kong FinTech community within the broad financial sector with its stakeholders, regulators, and participants. This community includes both digital teams within established banks, insurers, wealth managers and within innovative FinTech start-ups. Both teams are leveraging technology to disrupt and improve financial services for customers.


FTAHK operates based on three fundamental pillars: advocacy, community, and education. By fostering collaboration amongst all the stakeholders, including major financial services providers and emerging or established FinTechs, FTAHK aims to support innovation and growth for the benefit of the sector.


Personally, I have been actively involved in the FinTech space since its early stages, even before the term FinTech came into existence starting with the first e-cash issued in Hong Kong. As for my role within FTAHK, my initial focus was on digital banking, then over time, expanded from the virtual banks, to open banking, payments and most recently virtual assets such as payment related stable coins and the eHKD. Through the FTAHK’s collective expertise and experience, we hope to promote knowledge-sharing, support innovation, and help positioning Hong Kong as a prominent global FinTech hub.


Edward: What are the main goals of FTAHK, and do you have any performance indicators to measure progress? How does the association work towards achieving these goals?


Antony Morris: To quote the Chair Neil Tan;


“The main goal of FTAHK is to act as the super connector within the FinTech ecosystem. We connect incumbent banks, insurers, and other financial institutions with FinTech companies. We also collaborate with incubators, accelerators, HKSTP (Hong Kong Science and Technology Park), Cyberport, and all the universities. Our mission is to strengthen and expand the FinTech ecosystem, making it faster, more efficient, and more robust.”
“The FTAHK is currently at an all-time high in terms of membership, both on the corporate and individual sides, which is a key KPI. Another KPI is the number of events we host, and we've organized over 60 events this year to ensure our community members remain highly engaged.”

Personally, I support our talented General Manager, Raphael Jansa and the FTAHK team’s operational goals of ensuring vibrant representative membership, the financial stability of the organization and acting as a valuable contributor and influencer when it comes to industry changes.


To measure progress, Raphael and the team have both hard and soft measures. Soft measures cover assessing FTAHK's contributions to the industry, such as being invited to participate in key discussions or providing valuable insights during significant industry shifts. Hard measures, as Neil indicated, include regular activities for members in each of the eight key interest areas.


One area the Association focuses is the diversity of the organization and the community. I am delighted that we now have a majority of women leaders on the FTAHK Board (six of the eleven directors). This reflects my experience over the years, for instance when I joined the largest bank here, nearly all of senior technical team in Hong Kong were women. I have been very fortunate to work with great talented individuals from all the diverse communities within Hong Kong, This diversity remains a key strength of the FinTech community in Hong Kong.


Edward: What is the role of Hong Kong in the development of FinTech in Asia, and what unique advantages does Hong Kong offer to FinTech companies?


Antony Morris: Hong Kong plays a unique role in FinTech development in Asia, particularly in personal financial services. The territory has a foundation of a westernized financial services model, which has been evolving for over 60 years, primarily driven by card-based and traditional payment and banking systems. Hong Kong has also experienced technology impacts from various sources, such as Japan, where contactless card technology originated and integrated into stored value payment systems such as the global pioneer Octopus. More recently, next-generation technology from mainland China, such as SuperApps and their QR code-based payments on smartphones, have transformed Hong Kong's financial services landscape. This mix of old and new approaches makes Hong Kong a unique market where innovative financial technologies from around the world converge and compete.


Edward: What opportunities do you see for the growth of FinTech in Hong Kong, Greater China, and Asia as a whole?


Antony Morris: There are abundant opportunities for FinTech growth in the region. Banking, insurance, and wealth management all have great potential for further digital disruption. The ability of technology to quickly and safely enhance services in these sectors continues. For FinTech to grow sustainably, it needs viable business models, feasible technologies/operations, and the ability to delight and change the behaviour of customers.


Edward: Are there any new initiatives that FTAHK is currently working on to promote FinTech in Hong Kong, Greater China, and Asia?


Antony Morris: Yes, indeed. FTAHK is actively involved in fostering collaboration with other FinTech communities. For instance, the recent delegation visit to Dubai and up-coming one to Shenzhen to exchange knowledge and ideas with the FinTech Associations & communities there. These collaborations provide valuable opportunities for sharing experiences and learning from experts and leaders in each market.


Edward: As a board member of FTAHK, could you share a standout moment or accomplishment that you are particularly proud of? What motivates you to continue contributing to this dynamic industry?


Antony Morris: One of the standout moments for me is the remarkable collaboration and exchange of ideas that I have been fortunate to benefit from at member-only events. FTAHK is truly a community of individuals passionate about making financial services better and more accessible to people. What sets this group apart is the willingness of its members to openly share their experiences with one another for the good of the community. This sense of collective drive and the opportunity to positively impact people's financial experiences motivates FTAHK’s support to this dynamic and evolving FinTech industry.


Edward: Thank you, Antony, for your valuable insights into the FinTech landscape and for clearly explaining the mission and objectives of the FTAHK. Your contributions are greatly appreciated, and we look forward to witnessing the continued growth of the FinTech sector under the FTAHK’s influence and support.


Compiled and edited by Yiwen Chen

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