(Jan – June)
|Imports from the U.S.
|Exports to the U.S.
Units: USD million
Data Source: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong SAR Government
Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading international finance centers and has one of the world’s most active and liquid securities markets. The financial services sector remains one of Hong Kong’s most important economic pillars and accounts for 21.3 percent of the city’s GDP. According to Invest Hong Kong, 78 of the world’s top 100 banks call Hong Kong home. With over 163 licensed banks and 8 virtual banks Hong Kong has strong financial infrastructure. There is no control over capital movement and no capital gains and tax on dividends. Hong Kong hosts the largest pool of RMB liquidity outside Mainland China and serves as a springboard for foreign firms seeking access to Mainland China and for Mainland companies going global.
Sustainable and Green Finance: In 2021, Hong Kong’s sustainable finance market diversified and reached a new high, from US$57 billion in green and sustainable debt issuance (including bonds and loans) in 2021 to US$80.5 billion by the end of 2022. This growth reflects Hong Kong’s ongoing efforts to solidify its position as a regional green and sustainable finance hub. In 2022, one third of Asia’s international sustainable bond issuances were arranged in Hong Kong, making it the leader in Asia. The market has diversified into new types of thematic debt, including green debt instruments, sustainability bonds, and transition finance products.
The Hong Kong government has its own Green Bond Program and subsidies for private issuers. The Hong Kong government and HKEx mandate compliance with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework, and fund manager codes require disclosure of climate-related risks. The Hong Kong government is enhancing corporate disclosures requirements, developing systems to monitor ESG funds, and identifying a regulatory framework for carbon markets. The Hong Kong government and HKEx leaders have announced plans to implement the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards and proposed an effective date of January 1, 2024 in alignment with ISSB standards. Additionally, the HKEX has proposed a two-year transition period, which is an additional year for issuers to prepare for the enhanced climate disclosures, compared to the ISSB’s one-year transition period. These developments indicate that Hong Kong and the HKEX are making strides towards implementing and aligning with ISSB sustainability standards.
ESG Talent and Technical Solutions: As companies race to set more ambitious climate commitments and develop plans to reach them, there is a growing demand for ESG talent and consulting services. There is also growing demand for tools to monitor emissions, analyze and share ESG data, and predict future ESG performance. Additionally, financial institutions are increasingly seeking tools and services to compare and verify ESG reporting.
Insurance: this subsector is a major contributor to Hong Kong’s financial industry. As of June 30, 2023, there were 164 authorized insurers in Hong Kong, including 89 pure general insurers, 53 pure long-term insurers, 19 composite insurers, and three special purpose insurers. According to the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the industry had been growing at an average rate of 5.9 percent in the past five years from 2017 to 2021. Due to strict Covid-19 restrictions and the resulting economic slowdown, the subsector did witness some contract, but it is predicted to rebound to growth by the end of 2023.
Family Offices: due to its advantageous location, robust financial infrastructure, and favorable economic policies, the subsector has been growing in Hong Kong. There have been significant developments related to family offices in Hong Kong including a proposed tax concession regime for family-owned investment holding vehicles (FIHVs). This change represents a lower threshold and provides flexibility to taxpayers, especially those wealthy families based outside Hong Kong. For these reasons, U.S. General Partners can look at Hong Kong as a good location for raising capital.
Wealth and Asset Management: The Wealth Management Connect program is a recently announced government-led initiative between Hong Kong, Macau, and the nine provincial cities in Guangdong known collectively as the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The program allows mainland Chinese investors domiciled in the GBA to invest in approved wealth management products in Hong Kong and Macau and allows foreign investors to tap financial products sold in China via the two cities. The Wealth Management Connect initiative gives Hong Kong’s asset managers access to a market of 70 million people, 10 times the size of Hong Kong. Major financial institutions are actively growing their workforce to support the anticipated growth in this area.
Data Source: Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Security and Futures Commission and Invest Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an advanced city with high usage of mobile phone and internet accessibility, which provides a good platform for Hong Kong’s fintech ecosystem. According to Invest Hong Kong, there are over 800 fintech companies and 3,900 startups operating in Hong Kong. It is home to over 10 unicorn companies. According to the PolyU-Asklora Fintech Adoption Index of April 2023 at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 74 percent of Hong Kong respondents use at least two fintech services and over 90 percent have adopted digital payments. Adoption of virtual wealth, virtual bank, and virtual insurance were at 57 percent, 55 percent, and 41 percent, respectively. Hong Kong also has a high business to business adoption rate of fintech with 66 percent of fintech companies focusing on the B2B market.
Some of the best fintech prospects in Hong Kong include digital payments, securities settlement, electronic Know Your Customer (KYC) and digital identification utilities, data analytics, blockchain, wealthtech, insurtech, and regtech.
The Hong Kong government aims to push Hong Kong’s status as a financial center, with fintech as a key subsector. In June 2021, The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) rolled out the “Fintech 2025” strategy for driving fintech development in Hong Kong. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority highlighted the following five focus areas of the strategy which aims to encourage the financial sector to adopt technology comprehensively by 2025, as well as to promote the provision of fair and efficient financial services for the benefit of Hong Kong citizens and the Economy:
Fintech Adoption in Banking
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) will promote the all-round adoption of fintech by Hong Kong banks and encourage them to fully digitalize their operations, from front-end to back-end. To take this forward, the HKMA will roll-out a Tech Baseline Assessment to take stock of banks’ current and planned adoption of fintech in the coming years and to identify fintech business areas or specific technology types which may be underdeveloped and would benefit from the HKMA’s support.
Expanding the Fintech-savvy Workforce
To increase the supply of fintech talent, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority aims to collaborate with various strategic partners to groom fintech talent, both students and practitioners, through various initiatives, including developing fintech-specific training programs and qualifications, as well as promoting joint projects between the industry and the academia.
Nurturing the Ecosystem with Funding and Policies
A new Fintech Cross-Agency Coordination Group will be established by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and various industry key players to formulate supportive policies for the Hong Kong fintech ecosystem. HKMA will also enhance its Fintech Supervisory Sandbox and is exploring with the Innovation and Technology Commission the possibility of providing funding support to qualified fintech projects.
Enhancing Data Infrastructure
Commercial Data Interchange (CDI) is one of the key infrastructures to enhance data sharing between banks and data providers, this process will form a seamless ecosystem for data exchange. With the introduction of CDI in October 2022, financial institutions can now adopt these innovative applications to digitize and streamline various financial processes. These include but are not limited to Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedures, credit assessment, loan approval, and risk management. CDI opens new avenues for enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the financial sector, enabling institutions to stay ahead in this rapidly evolving digital landscape.
Advent of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)
In November 2022, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority launched the Rail 2 – e-HKD Pilot Program, which allows HKMA to gain actual experience through the e-HKD sandbox with various stakeholders, including banks and the industry. As a first step, the HKMA will first proceed to develop the wholesale and interbank layer in the first nine month to formulate a development plan with project timeline. The example of projects in the pipeline are technical deep dives on performance and privacy, industry engagements on e-HKD uses cases and design choices and access to e-HKD via e-wallet app.
Virtual Asset Trading
The Hong Kong government passed legislative amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO), which created a framework for regulating Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) in Hong Kong. The Security and Futures Commission (SFC)’s regulatory regime is effective on June 1, 2023. Any person operating a virtual asset trading platform, or actively marketing their services to the Hong Kong investors are required to be licensed and regulated by the Security and Futures Commission. The emergence of numerous blockchain and Web3 enterprises is anticipated to significantly bolster expansion within this expansive domain, with Hong Kong strategically positioning itself as a global cryptocurrency hub. Data Source: Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Security and Futures Commission and Invest Hong Kong
Each year the U.S. Commercial Service in Hong Kong attends two annual flagship finance and fintech events: Hong Kong Fintech Week and the Asian Financial Forum. These events both provide an opportunity for U.S. fintech companies to network with key leaders in Hong Kong and in many other countries across the region.
Invest Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Government’s inbound investment office, has created a Global Fast Track (GFT) program, a free one-stop support landing program to support fintech companies entering Hong Kong or the South China market.
Hong Kong Trade Shows:
Dates: October 30 – November 5 2023
Venues: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Dates: January 24 - 25, 2024
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
For more information about this industry sector, please contact:
U.S. Commercial Service, Hong Kong
Nicole Yan, Commercial Specialist