S’pore, HK central banks ink fintech cooperation deal

HONG KONG • The central banks of Hong Kong and Singapore have signed a fintech cooperation agreement that will foster collaboration on business referrals, joint innovation projects, information sharing and the exchange of expertise, said Mr Norman Chan, CEO of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), yesterday.

The first joint project will be on trade finance, he said in a speech to open the HKMA Fintech Day.

In a media release in Singapore, Mr Ravi Menon, managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said: “This is one of our more significant fintech cooperation agreements, given the extensive financial and trade linkages between Singapore and Hong Kong. We are especially pleased that we have a live project to enhance the trade finance corridor between the two financial centres.”

Financial technology has added a new dimension to the decades-old tussle between Singapore and Hong Kong for the position as Asia’s premier financial centre, with both cities throwing hundreds of millions of dollars to help fund start-ups and build ecosystems conducive to innovation.

“Traditionally as a financial centre, there’s that comparison between Singapore and Hong Kong,” Mr Roy Teo, head of MAS’ financial centre development, said in a discussion at the event. “But when it comes to fintech, this is where we recognise there’s a need for collaboration between the regulators.”

The HKMA event is part of the Hong Kong Fintech Week, which organisers say is expected to attract more than 3,000 executives. Singapore holds its fintech festival on Nov 13-17.

Last year, both cities held similar conferences within a week of each other.

Mr Chan said the regulators were in talks on cross-border infrastructure to connect the Hong Kong Trade Finance Platform with a similar structure in Singapore.

Seven banks in Hong Kong have signed on to the platform – an HKMA-led initiative – to digitise and share trade documents, automate processes and reduce risks and fraud, he said.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged several initiatives to boost the city’s innovation and technology sector in her policy address this month, including HK$2 billion (S$349 million) to co-invest with venture capital funds in local technology start-ups.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'S’pore, HK central banks ink fintech cooperation deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe