Once upon a time, my teacher taught me that Hong Kong is an international financial centre. Every day, we enjoy the economic success with a highly competitive business environment. But today, Hong Kong is being left behind in the fin-tech revolution. Singapore is ahead and moved aggressively with lots of support in spending and regulations. Mainland China’s fin-tech companies’ large customer-base has allowed them to grow in a manner that Hong Kong’s firms are not able to.
It is no question that here is the challenge: Hong Kong’s risk averse culture is a big obstacle for the fin-tech industry from moving fast enough. As an IT consultant, I heard a lot of friends who works in the banking industry worry about being digital disrupted by the fin-tech innovation, such as blockchain, Bitcoin and mobile payment. They are facing loss of their jobs, while big corporations are falling behind and not adapting to change.
But here is a choice: Hong Kong has lots of innovative and creative people. We have diverse thinkers, builders and leaders. We can bring together awesome teams that inspire and help to create the world’s best fin-tech scene. It is time to raise our awareness and re-imagining what’s possible with the power of financial technology to help companies make meaningful positive change.
And here will be the outcome: We shepherd global financial technology toward human. With the recent regulatory sandbox policy applied, it would allows startups to test their models in the market. These financial technology would be created to benefit people’s lives globally. Together we’ll use the language and tools of fin-tech to transform the way we build future commerce in Hong Kong.
A lot of friends ask me questions about the emerging of Blockchain revolution. According to the recent news, four of the world’s biggest banks have teamed up to develop a new form of digital cash that will become an industry standard to clear and settle financial trades over blockchain. Meanwhile, Ripple raised $55 million in Series B Funding. In my opinion, it’s no doubt that blockchain has the potential to disrupt everyday banking.
What is it?
Blockchain is a data structure for creating digital ledger of transactions shared among a distributed network of millions and millions of computers. It uses state-of-the-art cryptography to manipulate the ledger in a secure way. It is based on the concept of consensus where every nodes agree to every transactions, therefore avoids the need for a central counter party (CCP) model in the tradition settlement process.
How is it used?
The border implications of the blockchain is that cross-currency payments can be settle more efficiently by eliminates time delays and lower back-office costs. Customers nowadays demands for faster, lower-cost global payments, where blockchain allows direct bank-to-bank settlements. Some use cases of the protocol includes remittance service for retail customers, international transaction, corporate payment and cross-border intra-bank currency transfer.
What is the innovation?
It leads to opportunity that we can do transactions and satisfy double coincidence of wants without knowing who the other party is. The biggest innovation is the idea of a distributed database where trust is established through mass collaboration rather than a powerful institution that does the authentication and the settlement.
What problems could be solved?
The sorts of problems it could solve is beyond financial market since the technology could offer an immutable record that we can trust. Existing identity infrastructure is broken and easily compromised. In blockchain, once a block of data is recorded, it’s very hard to change, thus it can be used for genuine privacy protection. All copies of the existing blockchain run algorithm to verify the transaction when someone wants to add to it. Any malicious attempt to defraud the system would be rejected, while the proposed transaction will be approved when a majority of nodes agree it is valid by identifying matches with the blockchain history. As a result, it can be used to create an open protocol for identity on the web that creates a ‘web-of-trust’ and stores data encrypted.
- Martin Arnold, “Big banks plan to coin new digital currency”, the Financial Times, August 24, 2016, https://www.ft.com/content/1a962c16-6952-11e6-ae5b-a7cc5dd5a28c
- Alyssa Jarrett, “Ripple raises $55 million in Series B Funding”, Ripple official website, Sept 15, 2016, https://ripple.com/insights/ripple-raises-55-million-in-series-b-funding/
- Don Tapscott, Alex, Rik Kirklandm, “How Blockchains could change the world”, McKinsey & Co, May 8th, 2016, http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/05/blockchains-change-world/?all=1