Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area — redefining boundaries

Technological disruptions, political transitions and demographic, as well as sociographic shifts, are sweeping across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area of southern China. Hong Kong’s financial centre is at the heart of a massive transition touching almost all areas of life across a region that in 2017 reached an economic aggregate of 11.7 trillion yuan ($1.83 trillion). And the recently completed construction of the world’s longest sea bridge signals more leaps in innovation can be expected in the coming decade.

The Hong Kong Fintech week 2018

Attending the Hong Kong Fintech week as Head of Business Development of AAAccell, a Swiss Fintech and University Spin-Off in Risk and Asset Management provided me with great insights into a rapidly transforming geography and ecosystem. Read more about the Hong Kong Fintech Week — link.

The event stands proof to a rapidly growing and changing Financial Services Ecosystem. The number of over 200 attending startups highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of a new digital generation of finance. In stark contrast stand the traditional banks and wealth managers of Hong Kong. It appears, however, that even the smallest player has a team that — at least on the surface — is trying to build some Fintech initiative. The focus of many of these projects lies on digitising the client facing side of the business, without touching core processes and not pushing for a more fundamental change. Inevitably, a more profound reaching transformation will be required to remain competitive into the future. But it is not only the regional financial centre that is experiencing a rapid shift.

Connecting different worlds

Earlier this year the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge opened, now spanning a 55-kilometre bridge-tunnel system. Shenzhen — the Silicon Valley of hardware — is only 90 minutes from Hong Kong, or easily accessible by boat from Macau. The city has grown from less than 100'000 to over 12 million people in the last 30 years. The special economic zone allows most nationalities to obtain a 5-day visa open entry. Different roadsides to drive on, different currencies, different insurances, different passports, different people; it is truly a melting pot of civilisations all seeking innovation.

A new era

Considered individually, Hong Kong offers excellent opportunities as an entrepreneurial financial hub, and Shenzhen stands firm as a cradle of hardware innovation. The two cities offer around 30 incubators, accelerators and innovation parks. Combine them, and the complementing synergies are tremendous. And as the region inevitably moves closer together, these synergies will only tighten. The vibe and drive right on the gates to China, place Hong Kong at the heart of a new dawn of finance in Asia.