Israeli entrepreneur Guy Sheena came all the way from the Middle Eastern country to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of China to look for potential partners for his fintech startup, and the trip was proven fruitful.
At the 2023 Asian Financial Forum (AFF) taking place in Hong Kong from Wednesday to Thursday, Sheena was able to connect with various financial companies interested in the startup's artificial intelligence-based security solutions.
"Hong Kong is a main center for fintech and its potential for bringing forward the fintech industry is very big. And we want to be part of that process," he said.
Themed "Accelerating Transformation: Impact, Inclusion, Innovation", this year's AFF, its 16th edition, attracted thousands of online and offline participants from over 70 countries and regions, showcasing the comeback of the global financial center.
"We need to tell the world that Hong Kong is back on the center stage, and what that means for the countries, economies and companies that partner with Hong Kong is opportunity -- long-term, long-rewarding opportunities," said HKSAR Chief Executive John Lee during the event.
While long deemed as one of the financial centers of the world, Hong Kong's economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic during the past three years. The HKSAR government has been stepping up efforts to transform the city's financial market to maintain and elevate its financial hub status.
Among the initiatives, the city is fast developing its fintech sector, enhancing its fintech infrastructure, providing an enabling regulatory framework and encouraging financial innovation and nurturing talent.
During the forum, local fintech firms set up booths at the exhibition center, showcasing the world the city's emerging edge in financial technology.
"It's golden time for Hong Kong to develop fintech. The city should build on its strength in the financial system and the rule of law to take the lead in global financial innovations," said Irene Wong, founder and CEO of a Hong Kong-based fintech company.
Another direction for financial market transformation of the city is green finance. In 2021, the amount of green and sustainable debt issued in Hong Kong topped in Asia to reach about 57 billion U.S. dollars, HKSAR government data showed.
"Hong Kong is keen on harnessing our status as an international financial center and our strengths in professional services to contribute to global environmental objectives," said Paul Chan, financial secretary of the HKSAR government.
The green finance initiatives, together with other transformation, will add vitality to the financial market and consolidates Hong Kong's global financial hub status, participants at the forum said.
"Hong Kong possesses immense potential to emerge as Asia's green finance hub," said Jin Liqun, president of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
"We have firm conviction that Hong Kong will maintain its status as one of the most important international financial centers with its close proximity to some of the biggest carbon markets in the world," he said.