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Hong Kong Startup News Round Up - 6 May 2018

5 in 5 minutes

HK Decoding Law wins at Global Legal Hackathon

HK-based Decoding Law won the public sector award at the initial Global Legal Hackathon (GLH) in New York amongst entrants from 40 cities across 22 countries worldwide on 21st April. Decoding Law is a machine learning powered browser plug-in that helps individuals, especially unrepresented litigants, to read and understand legislation by breaking down complex legislative drafting into simple language, and explains defined terms.

The Hong Kong access-to-justice solution was created over one hectic weekend by a team comprising Hong Kong University (HKU) and Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) law students, together with experienced software developers, data scientists and AI researchers, at Hong Kong’s very first LegalTech and RegTech hackathon.

Chinese Xiaomi, picks HK for a Major IPO, boosting city’s position in 2018 IPO race

Hong Kong’s decision to loosen regulations and allow dual-class shares just one week ago sees Xiaomi, a gadget making Chinese startup, announcing that it would list in Hong Kong, the first company to do so after the rule change. The change is expected to trigger a spurt of initial public offerings from big-name Chinese companies such as Didi and Meitruan this year and next amid growing appetite across global public markets for new technology companies.

If many of them end up listing in Hong Kong, then China will have accomplished a major goal: keeping its hugely successful tech boom at home. However, some big institutional investors have criticized the move of throwing out tighter regulations and have raised concerns that its strong regulatory and legal institutions are slowly being eroded by Beijing.

Why remittance startup Bitspark abandoned bitcoin

Established in 2014 in Hong Kong, Bitspark is known as a bitcoin remittance firm that uses the blockchain technology for end-to-end, cross-border payment services in the Asia-Pacific region, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

According to co-founder George Harrap, bitcoin can be replaced by new cryptocurrencies which are “better, faster, cheaper” in the future. “There is not much point in having bitcoin when there is something else, and if that something else is better, then that something else is going to win,” he says. Bitspark has partnered with more than 10 cryptocurrency exchanges, enabling the company to establish a good exchange rate for cash-to-crypto and crypto-to-cash transactions.

How the HK govt can boost the startup ecosystem (besides splurging)

The Hong Kong Economic Journal recently sat down with two HK startup veterans – Keith Li, co-founder and chief executive of Innopage, a mobile applications development startup, and Wilson Yuen, founder and CEO of TFI Digital Media, a video solutions provider. They shared their thoughts on Hong Kong’s latest push in tech innovation and entrepreneurship, and discuss the long-term and short-term moves the government can make. They cover topics such as the government allocation of HK$50 billion to support tech innovations, how to leverage the education system and how to encourage universities to foster startup culture.

The perks of starting up in HK, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand

Startup scene veterans from Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan showed April 18 at the Taipei event “Battle of the Ecosystems” to speak for their home markets – as well as caution founders about potential obstacles.

Japan a market of its own (according to Joseph Huang from Infinity Ventures)
Pros: Japan offers startups a solid regulatory environment, technically skilled workers and a laboratory for blockchain-based technology
Cons: Business people must get used to ambiguous maybes and other indirect communication, especially when it comes to getting go-aheads from partners.

Thailand: Practice Positive energy (according to Amarit Charoenphan from Techsauce Media)
Pros: Thailand’s affordability and lifestyle is perfect for young entrepreneurs who need to keep burn rates low. Funding is available from the corporate venture capital sector when startups want to expand.
Cons: The ambiguities common in Japan occur in Thailand, a yes can even mean no, and regulation can be clunky.

Taiwan - for entrepreneurs who want quality of life (according to Holly Harrington from the Taiwan Startup Stadium)
Pros: Many VC firms, accelerators, and consultants from other parts of the world feel good about Taiwan, and once people discover the potential here, they keep coming back for more. Taiwan is brimming with tech-savvy talents and boast the quality of life
Cons: Taiwanese may be late with e-mail replies and ignore missed phone calls and Taiwan’s process for getting entrepreneur visas could be improved. And Taiwan-based startups must consider expanding offshore due to the markets small size.

Hong Kong - link to China and other places (according to Alex Chan from the Mills Fabrica)
Pros: The territory’s position as a regional hub gives companies better reach to markets and funding. Its ease of doing business, links to other parts of the world and entryway into mainland China are some of its most attractive qualities.

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