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Finance and economics


FinTech Week puts spotlight on tokenization and cross-border transactions

  • By: Runqing LIEdited by: Zimo ZHONG
  • 2023-11-04

Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 came to a close on Friday, attracting over 30,000 participants during the two-day event. This year’s theme was “Fintech Redefined”. The conference focused on policy and regulatory innovation, the shift from web2 to web3 and AI, and leveraging technology for inclusion, ESG, and Green Finance. It has been the eighth year for Hong Kong to hold one of the largest and most influential fintech events in Asia, featuring more than 500 speakers both online and offline. Compared to last year, organisers have doubled the floor space at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to accommodate 540 exhibitors. “No other economy can claim our unique advantage under the ‘one country two systems’ principle, to draw on and create opportunities from both our country and the world at large,” said John Lee, the Chief Executive at the opening on Thursday. After one of the largest financial frauds in Hong Kong history, which involved a loss of HK$1.5 billion in the JPEX cryptocurrency exchange in October, the focus of this year's conference shifted from last year's virtual assets to tokenization and cross-border transactions. On Friday, the government announced a three-pronged strategy for fintech development, two of which involve expanding the use of digital yuan and Web3 technology.  On Thursday, the Securities and Futures Commission issued two circulars on tokenized securities, opening retail access under the condition of prior notification and business plan discussions with the Securities and Futures Commission and with smart contract audits. Alan Ding, 35, a business director of a Hong Kong-based company in Web 3 and cryptocurrency, said that Hong Kong provides a good business environment for Fintech companies. But he still hopes the Hong Kong government can implement more “specific policies”. Ding added that although the Hong Kong government supports Fintech, it is …


Wine & Dine Festival 2023: A Culinary Delight and Cultural Celebration

  • By: KONG Tsz Yuen、Wai Yan MIUEdited by: Rex Cheuk
  • 2023-10-31

Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival reopened at the Central Harbourfront event space on Oct. 26 after five-year hiatus because of the pandemic and the 2019 social movement. The four-day festival features over 300 booths with food and drinks from 36 nations and regions, ranging from France and Italy vintages to Chinese spirits. In addition to trying out the drinks, visitors can also taste different foods from demonstrations and workshops such as learning how to brew coffee from Coffee Academics. Visitors can also enjoy stage performances from groups including VSing, a gold medal-winning cappella group. The Hong Kong Tourism Board's annual event is part of the government's "Night Vibes Hong Kong" Campaign, designed to revitalise the city's sluggish night economy by showcasing entertainment, culture, and art events. “I can't wait to tell you that Hong Kong people are indeed really true French wine lovers. Despite the pandemic, Hong Kong still imported 13 to 14 million bottles of wine,” said Hong Kong’s finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po at the opening ceremony. Apart from a wide selection of wine from eight main regions , including  France, Spain and Japan, the festival also presented  new lettuce wine from Thailand and Singapore, said Chan. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the wine carnival attracted total 140,000 people during the four-days event. “The festival is much bigger than I expected,”  said Mustang Chau, a local visitor who waited for about 45 minutes at the entrance. Xige Guanlan Group, a Chinese winery, introduced “a series of new products at the festival, including four different flavours of white wine,” said Christelle Chene, International Affairs Director of the group. The Ningxia-based vineyard participated in the festival in a bid to promote and encourage more Hong Kong people to taste Chinese wines. “By using cans for packaging, the …


Policy Address 2023: Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee hopes to revive flagging stock market with cut on stamp duty

  • By: Chi On LIU、Runqing LI、Yixin GaoEdited by: Yixin Gao
  • 2023-10-25

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, John Lee, announced his government will ease the stamp duty on stock transfer from 0.13% to 0.10% for the sluggish stock market in today’s policy address.  “A vibrant stock market is vital for upholding Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre and maintaining our competitiveness,” said Lee. Mark Li, 51, an individual stock investor who has invested in the Hong Kong stock market for more than 20 years, said that this policy would attract more short-term investors such as him.  “Relying on this decline, I can always put a huge amount of money to buy the stock at a low price and sell it at a higher price on the same day at a lower cost,” said Li.  Billy Mak Sui-Choi,40, an associate director of the Centre for Corporate Governance and Financial Policy at Hong Kong Baptist University, said that the decrease of stamp duty on stock transfer would increase the stock liquidity but could not ensure all investors trade more frequently as the deduction of stamp duty on stock transfer had less effect on long-term investors. “Even though the stamp duty does not decrease, the long-term investors will be unaware as the 0.13% stamp duty can easily be diluted,” said Mak. “Also, the biggest concern from people is not stamp duty but corporates’ performance.” The Hong Kong Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-Po, also wrote in his weekly blog on Sept. 3 that decreasing the stamp duty on stock transfer was not enough to stimulate the Hong Kong stock market structurally in the long term. “The drop of 0.03% is minimal,” said Chris Wong, 24, a corporate banker. “For example, if you invest HK$ 10,000 on the stock market and only spend three dollars less, it will not affect a lot,” he added.  Wong said …


Policy Address 2023: Hong Kong halves the buyer stamp duty for the first time

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Lisheng CHENGEdited by: Zimo ZHONG
  • 2023-10-25

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee announced that the buyer stamp duty is halved and published the stamp duty suspension arrangement with immediate effect for incoming talents on Wednesday to boost the local property market in his latest policy address. The Hong Kong government will cut the current buyer stamp duty in half to 7.5% and will postpone levying double stamp duties for incoming talents who have not yet become Hong Kong permanent residents.  Meanwhile, the applicable period of special stamp duty will be shortened from three years to two years, meaning property owners will no longer pay the 10% special stamp duty if they choose to resell the property after two years of acquisition. “Compared with last year’s policy, these new policies are more direct to property buyers,” said Martin Wong, head of research and consultancy for Knightfrank, a global property consultancy based in Hong Kong. John Lee published the Proposed Refund Mechanism for non-local residents to attract talent in his 2022 policy address with the condition that the double stamp duties will be refunded if non-permanent residents buy their new property after Oct. 19, 2022. Terence Li, senior principal account manager of Centaline Property, said: “30% stamp duties are always too high for non-local buyers, and last year’s policy is not that attractive as it’s hard for those non-local residents to reach the seven-year mark.” The price of properties in Hong Kong dropped 15.2%, and the trading amount of primary and secondary markets dropped 39% in 2022 compared with 2021, according to the Rating and Valuation Bureau of Hong Kong. From 2009 to 2016, a series of measures were introduced with the intention of reducing speculative demand and restraining the surging home prices that had surged after the conclusion of the SARS outbreak in July 2003. The special …


Explainer: Is the United Kingdom a cryptocurrency friendly nation?

  • By: Tiffany MaEdited by: Alison Leung
  • 2023-08-01

Reporters: Kelly Yau and Tiffany Ma The Pembury Tavern, the first pub in London that accepted Bitcoin in 2013 was found to have stopped accepting the cryptocurrency for years.  The pub’s General Manager Stuart said accepting Bitcoin “is basically too dangerous”. The pub first accepted Bitcoin in 2013 as a “promotional event” that lasted “for a short period of time”, he said. During the promotion period, the pub sold about £800 of alcohol to customers through Bitcoin.  However, Stuart added that they “haven’t done it (accepting Bitcoin) for years”. Why did the pub accept Bitcoin as one of the payment methods at first? Though the pub did not recognise Bitcoin as a payment method nowadays, the original idea of accepting Bitcoin came from its founder, Stephen Early.   Early bought some Bitcoin in 2011 but realised there were not many places for using it so he kept them first.  With the Bitcoins soon worth 20 times what Early paid for them, he thought other Bitcoin holders may love to purchase the pub’s products with their Bitcoin. As a former computer scientist, Early created a Bitcoin payment software and displayed a QR code in his pub.  Customers paid for the pub’s food and drinks by scanning the code. What is Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, is a digital currency that exists both virtually and digitally to conduct transactions through blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are not reliant on any central authority, such as governments, while transactions are verified and records are maintained by a decentralised system using cryptography. Ethereum, Litecoin and Binance Coin are some other examples of cryptocurrencies. Why is the United Kingdom considered as a cryptocurrency friendly place? Cryptocurrency holding and trading are legal in the United Kingdom although some other countries such as China have outlawed them. The country …

From personal financial planning to institutional investing, AI pushes Hong Kong’s WealthTech to new heights

  • 2023-06-30
  • By: Man TSE、Yuchen LIEdited by: Bella Ding、Le Ha NGUYEN、Kin Hou POON
  • 2023-06-30

By indicating one’s daily expenses to a chatbot called SuiGor, one will be able to automatically receive a budget calendar to keep track of spending for better financial control. SuiGor (水哥), available on Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, is a Cantonese intelligent wealth management program. It is designed to provide several functions, including bill bookkeeping, spending analysis and personal expenditure recommendations to help users align with their financial objectives. “I started this program because I hope to improve personal finance education for the public in this way,” said Sherman Lee, founder of SuiGor. “ People could form a habit of recording their daily consumption as well.” With over 500 free users and 100 paid subscribers now, SuiGor is one of the latest WealthTech applications empowered by Artificial Intelligence in Hong Kong. As a convergence of technologies, such as AI, big data and financial assets, which includes savings and investment, WealthTech provides digital solutions to individuals and companies to automate and facilitate the efficiency of the processes associated with wealth management and investments. Cyberport, one of Hong Kong’s business parks, housed around 60 WealthTech startups, including SuiGor, as of 2022. “WealthTech can lower the cost of wealth management services and enhance the efficiency of product development and operation, in turn lowering the threshold for customers to enjoy personalised investment products and wealth management advice,” said Eric Chan, the Chief Public Mission Officer of Cyberport, in the press release. Launched by Microsoft-Backed OpenAI in November 2022, the viral chatbot ChatGPT has been utilised worldwide to create content, generate cost-effective business proposals and streamline code development, creating a dynamic transformation for various business sectors, including Wealth Tech. “Our team use the most up-to-date Application Programming Interface (API) of OpenAI, which provides the interface for us to use OpenAI’s data and functionality, empowering SuiGor GPT …


ChatGPT-type AI stocks grow with volatility amid investment hype

  • By: Yuhe WANG、Mei Ching LEEEdited by: Bella Ding、Zimo ZHONG、Nga Ying LAU
  • 2023-06-30

The Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the developer of the ChatGPT, announced the launch of the latest artificial intelligence model named GPT-4 with stronger functions on Mar. 14. It can simultaneously process information in images and respond to a 25,000-word request now. ChatGPT sprints to one million users in only five days, creating the fastest-growing consumer application in history compared with technology powerhouses such as Netflix and Twitter, according to Statista. The popularity of the newest version of ChatGPT reached a full score in the evaluation of Google Trends only six days after its debut. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which is the development of intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans, which includes virtual assistants. "AI stocks" refers to stocks of companies focused on developing and applying artificial intelligence technology. The largest players in AI stocks currently are Google and Microsoft, while small companies are usually working on the application of AI rather than invention. Rex Tsang Kai-bong, the founder of AO Summit, an online platform using AI to analyse the flow of stocks, used the example of the application of Google Maps in Gogovan, an app-based logistic platform originated in Hong Kong. “GogoVan can be successful without a need to build another map system because the founders took the chance of applying for Google Maps, so as AI,” said Tsang. However, Tsang was not optimistic about the development of small companies which introduce specific use of AI as he considered small companies with limited revenue and fund for continuous research and development would feel hard to compete with tech giants to introduce specific AI utilization. Microsoft was making a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, according to the company statement on Jan 23. During the same period, the mean capital expenditures for the Software (System & Application) industry were …


Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023 kicks off Happy Hong Kong

  • By: Hanzhi YANG、Yiyang LIEdited by: Noah Tsang、Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-04-30

There was a larger crowd than usual yesterday at the Festival Grand Cinema due to the Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023. Groups of families and young couples could be seen queueing up to get their movie tickets.  On Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023, one movie ticket would cost consumers only HK$30 to watch. This applies to all types of movies in Hong Kong cinemas, whether it's 4DX, IMAX or DBOX. Carol Chan, 33, said, "I walked by the cinema after work on the 27th and found so many tickets left to buy that I bought two, just in time to take the opportunity to go on a date with my boyfriend". Tickets for the Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023, which is one of Hong Kong's "Happy Hong Kong" events, were on sale after 11 am on April 27 at all cinema ticketing websites.  A maximum of four tickets are allowed per person per transaction. Online ticket purchase is subject to the ticket purchase restriction of each theatre. Agens Li, 28, was travelling from Shenzhen to Hong Kong during the Labour Day holiday said, "I bought my movie tickets on the app on the 27th. The movie, The First Exorcist of the Church, was not released on the mainland". She added, "It's really lucky to see the movie on the holiday at such a good price." There are no senior citizen, child and student discounts. All other coupons, movie coupons, membership and bank discounts will not apply on the same day. Organized by the Hong Kong Theatre Association and sponsored by the Film Development Fund, Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023 aims to encourage audiences to experience the joy of returning to the theatre and accelerate the economic recovery of the industry. The "Happy Hong Kong" series, which was unveiled to the …


Tolls for two Hong Kong cross-harbour tunnels will increase to HK$30 from August 2, charges for Western Tunnel will decrease to HK$60

  • By: Kei Tung LAMEdited by: Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-03-22

To alleviate long-standing traffic flow issues, the Hong Kong government proposed a new toll plan for three cross-harbour tunnels in two stages.  Chan Sai-hung, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, said that under the first stage, starting from August 2, tolls for private cars using the Western Harbour Crossing will be lowered from HK$75 to HK$60. Also, the tolls for the Cross-Harbour Tunnel and the Eastern Harbour Crossing will be increased from HK$20 to HK$30 and from HK$25 to HK$30, respectively.  Taxi fares will be standardized at HK$25 per trip for all three tunnels to discourage empty taxis from concentrating on lower-priced return trips through the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings. "The lower toll rate for the Western Harbour Tunnel would encourage me to use it more often," Chan, a private car driver, said. He said that the higher toll rates for the other tunnels could help distribute traffic evenly across all three tunnels. However, not all drivers are happy with the proposed changes. Sze, a private car driver and a frequent user of the Eastern Harbour Tunnel, said that the toll increase would add to his monthly expenses. "The new charges are just a disguised increase in fares," he said. Under the proposed second stage, which is expected to start latest by the end of this year, the government plans to implement different charging schemes for different time periods.  During "non-peak hours", 7 pm to 7.30 am,  from Monday to Saturday nights, the three tunnels will charge a flat rate of HK$20 for private cars. In the morning and evening "peak hours", the fee is HK$60 for the Western Harbour Tunnel and HK$40 for the Cross-Harbour and Eastern Harbour Crossings.  On Sundays and public holidays, private cars will be charged at a flat rate of HK$20 to HK$25, depending …


Hong Kong’s unemployment rate drops to 3.3% on the path to full recovery

  • By: Man TSE、Kin Hou POONEdited by: Le Ha NGUYEN、Rex Cheuk、Yixin Gao
  • 2023-03-17

Hong Kong’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged lower to 3.3%  in the rolling period from December 2022 to February 2023, amid the full reopening aroused the labour market, according to the data released by the Census and Statistics Department.  Hong Kong’s unemployment rate has shown a tenth-month decreasing trend since April 2022. The latest figure marked a 0.1 percent decrease from the prior period between last November and this January.  The number of seasonally adjusted unemployed persons declined by around 2,700 to 115,700, while the underemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percentage point to 1.3%, with the number of underemployed people decreasing by 4,200 to 47,900. "The labour market conditions should improve further in the near term alongside the continued return of economic activities to normalcy and the rebound in inbound tourism," said Chris Sun Yuk-han, the Secretary for Labor and Welfare.  The combined unemployment rate of the retail, accommodation and food services sectors slightly fell by 0.2 percentage point to 4.3%. The unemployment rate of the retail sector declined by 0.3 percentage point to 3.9%, while the food and beverage service activities sector edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 4.8%.  The unemployment rates of many other sectors, particularly the transportation sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, also accordingly decreased. Hong Kong has been resuming normalcy with the full border reopening with the Mainland. Beijing announced last month that mainland tourists can enter Hong Kong freely without quota limitations and reservations. Hong Kong also lifted the mask mandate, the last Covid restriction in the public area in Hong Kong, on March 1. “After cancelling different Covid prevention policies, more and more people are willing to consume and work outside, so the retail and catering industries are recovering,” said Yuen Wai-kee, the Assistant Professor of the Department of Economics …