Israel and Hong Kong have quite a bit in common. For example, despite their small population sizes (Israel’s 8.6 million vs. Hong Kong’s 7.4 million), both are hotbeds of innovation and development that outstrip many of their larger neighbors. As of this month, Cathay Pacific joins El Al in offering nonstop service between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv, making the two locations that much geographically closer.
However, there is a new connecting factor that joins the two in a way that is changing the world.
Both of these locations are known as two of the top international fintech hubs in the world. Both locations host Fintech Week, a week long set of conferences, workshops, hackathons, meetups and social events dedicated to exploring the latest fintech developments and networking among companies active in the field. In addition:
Besides being home to many of the top fintech companies in the world (including many from Mainland China), Hong Kong has the natural branding as Asia’s largest financial center, providing an immediate attraction for fintech. Hong Kong has one of the highest concentrations of banking institutions anywhere, with 70 of the world’s largest 100 banks having an operation in Hong Kong. The location’s position as Asia’s super connector is particularly attractive for B2B solutions, while its geographic and economic proximity to China gives it privileged access to investment opportunities as well as a huge market. Accenture, DBS and Standard Chartered are just a few names in the extensive list of banks and firms that have created fintech acceleration programs in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has established a Fintech Facilitation Office to exchange ideas among key stakeholders and to provide an interface between market participants and regulators.
Their Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) initiated the Fintech Contact Point to enhance communication with businesses involved in the development and application of financial technology (Fintech) in Hong Kong.
HKMA-ASTRI FinTech Innovation Hub (The Hub) is a facility dedicated to industry players, such as banks, payment service providers, and fintech start-ups. The HKMA operates as a gathering place to brainstorm and review innovative ideas, try out and evaluate new fintech solutions, conduct proof-of-concept trials and gain an early understanding of the general applicability of creative solutions for banking and payment services.
HKMA has also launched a Fintech Supervisory Sandbox to allow banks to test innovative Fintech products and initiatives within a live, controlled environment, before they are fully compliant.
There are currently over 450 fintech companies active in Israel, accounting for over 10% of the total investment funding garnered by Israeli startups last year. An increasing number of venture capital-backed companies focus on robotics for financial services, payments, and especially blockchain technology. Financial services in Israel are becoming more digital and banks are working on creating their own digital versions, something that is driving more innovation into the financial services space. Major banks HaPoalim and Leumi each have fintech units facilitating the development and testing of new products, while accelerator programs have been created by major banking entities including Citibank and Barclays.
In the past year, several FinTech communities have sprouted in and around Tel Aviv to cater to the growing FinTech startup community. These include Rise Tel Aviv created by Barclays, The Floor (supported by Intel and HSBC, among other partners) and FinTech Aviv.
In light of these complementary strengths, the bond between the two fintech powerhouses can only grow. Fintech companies from both locations can greatly benefit from exploring contacts and market opportunities in the other.
EDI represents the interests of Invest Hong Kong in Israel and stands ready to assist Israeli companies interested in exploring the benefits of creating a presence in Hong Kong.
Michael, EDI’s VP Strategy & Business Development, Michael assists in the development of opportunities for EDI’s clients and is the Lead Consultant for Invest Hong Kong. His primary responsibilities include international business consulting, marketing consulting, organizing trade missions, developing export opportunities, as well as market research and communication facilitation.