One of the four cities that will be the “hotbeds” of the blockchain financial services is Hong Kong as the technology is expected to be implemented by banks and other financial institutions within three years. That’s according to the director business development and strategy, Cloud + Enterprise at the U.S. tech giant, Microsoft, Marley Gray.
The other cities are London, New York, and Singapore.
A report by South China Morning Post quotes Gray as saying that these cities “are the anchor points in which blockchain will be solved, and it will just grow from there.”
The concept of blockchain adoption is still new in Hong Kong, according to the co-founder and CEO of ANX International, Ken Lo, in a report last month.
In February, a senior research fellow at the University of Hong Kong and founder of the SuperCharger Fintech accelerator, Janos Barberis, noted that the city is a very small market.
Hence, he suggested that startups in the city think about their Hong Kong +1 strategy (e.g. scale in China and Vietnam) from day one. This will necessitate fintech startups to look beyond the city for the commercial application of solutions as well as cross-border expansion.
However, the fact still remains that the city is one of the biggest financial centres in the world. Moreover, blockchain adoption seems to have received a boost after the Hong Kong Financial Secretary’s first mention of “blockchain” in his budget plan 2016. John Tsang in February announced in the plan that the government will encourage the industry and relevant organizations to explore the application of blockchain technology in the financial services industry, specifically towards reducing suspicious transactions and bringing down transaction costs.
The budget speech was hailed as positive for the Hong Kong fintech and financial services community by the Managing Director and Head of Technology & Operations, Hong Kong & Mainland China of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, David Lynch. He said it will unquestionably improve the attractiveness of Hong Kong for investment as long as the mechanisms to facilitate the matching/investment are managed efficiently.
The excitement that has built around blockchain technology has since extended from beyond the financial services and the IT industries to the commercial space.
Last month, at the launch of the DBS Accelerator programme to help innovative fintech startups unlock their potential to successfully scale up and expand their business in Hong Kong as well as regionally and internationally, the Bank’s Hong Kong CEO Sebastian Paredes cited blockchain, as well as artificial intelligence and big data, as breakthroughs that will shape the way consumers and corporations transact and interact.
Gray said blockchain does not rely on middlemen – unlike in traditional finance systems – to record and approve transactions. He says it stores information across an entire network that all players can access thus reducing the chance of fraud. He claimed an interest in Hong Kong for the blockchain technology was “rapidly gaining steam”.
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