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Hong Kong Startup News Round Up - 2018 03 11

5 in 5 minutes

HKMA's “Sandbox” tested 29 new technology products so far

As of last month, HKMA's FinTech Supervisory Sandbox scheme had tested 29 new technology products. HKMA launched the scheme in September 2016 that allows banks and their partner technology firms to conduct pilot trials of their financial technology initiatives. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said a faster payment system will be launched in September this year across 20 banks and eight e-payment operators. The de facto central bank's announcement indicates the development of the new payment scheme is nearing completion. Both banks and stored value facilities operators can participate in the system, which supports the use of mobile phone numbers or email addresses for payments in Hong Kong dollar and renminbi anytime and anywhere.

Big demand on Insurance Authorities Fast Track

More than 40 international and Chinese tech companies and start-ups have approached the Insurance Authority seeking information on digital insurance licences via the newly launched fast track scheme. The authority in October introduced the fast track programme to allow tech firms to operate online-only insurance businesses to offer direct sales of basic life insurance, travel or personal accident coverage. Traditional insurance companies, which sell via agents and brokers, still require longer approval times of more than a year. “One condition for applicants of the fast track licence is that they have to partner with a traditional insurance company” said Carol Hui Mei-ying, executive director of long-term business at the Insurance Authority. Although no formal applications have been received so far, Hui said potential candidates have been actively working on their partnerships so that they can apply.

Beta Bay at SXSW “China matters”

Bay McLaughlin, Co-Founder & COO of HK’s accelerator Brinc.io, spoke at SXSW in Austin this Saturday: “China matters. But China has stepped it up again and is creating the world's largest tech and innovation metropolis on Earth: The Greater Bay! 67 Million people, $1.3T GDP, 11 cities all less than 1 hour away from each other. Entire cities dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, Gaming, FinTech, IoT, and so much more. It's time to get ready... again, because China is moving the centre of the innovation universe and you're going to want to be a part of it!”

Photo credit: Bay McLaughlin 

Octopus will battle again for the taxi market

Octopus will launch another attempt to capture Hong Kong’s e-payment market for taxi rides. Octopus chief executive Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong said on Monday the company would launch a tailor-made app for taxi drivers in April. The app will feature a card reader that can be used by passengers to pay fares on board. The 18,163 taxis in Hong Kong were the sole form of public transport accepting only cash until late last year, when Ant Financial’s Alipay, Tencent’s WeChat Pay HK and Octopus rolled out QR code payment services. “Octopus has an edge. It is so widely used in Hong Kong. But whether drivers or passengers will choose to use Octopus or others depends on what incentives it offers.” said Ng Kwan-shing, chairman of the Taxi Dealers and Owners Association.

AlipayHK reaches million-user milestone

AlipayHK said on Friday this week it has attracted over one million registered users and established partnerships with 10,000 outlets in Hong Kong since its launch in May 2017. Jennifer Tan Yuen-chun, chief executive of Alipay Payment Service Limited, said 80 percent of the partners accept both AlipayHK and Alipay at this stage. Asked if the two versions of Alipay will be merged, Tan said that the company is studying the regulatory guidelines to see if AlipayHK could be used on the mainland. Tan also said the company is studying the details of applying for a Virtual Banking license launched by HKMA.

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