ASTRI partnered with InvestHK, organiser of the Hong Kong FinTech Week 2017, and contributed with in-depth, insightful sessions on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) or Blockchain. In addition to two mainstage sessions and a workshop on Blockchain, ASTRI also presented a workshop on cybersecurity. The mainstage sessions on DLT covered ‘Cutting-edge Blockchain Applications’ across industries such as luxury retail and financial services, and ‘Legal, Regulatory and Control Principles of DLT’ respectively. Meanwhile, the workshop discussed ‘Technological Aspects of DLT’.
On the opening day, Dr MeiKei Ieong, Chief Technology Officer of ASTRI, moderated a panel discussion on ‘Cutting-edge Blockchain Applications’. The panel included senior executives from two unique industries – luxury retail (represented by Pritesh Patel – SVP and Chief Operating Officer of Gemological Institute of America Inc, and Jade Lee – Deputy General Manager or Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group) and financial services (represented by Harry Wong – Governing Committee Member and Chairman FinTech Taskforce of The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, and Zhi Yong-wang – Head of Product Development and Management of ICBC Asia Limited). The panellists discussed opportunities as well as constraints in rolling out Blockchain applications across various industries. The experience from the luxury jewellery sector highlighted how Blockchain can be useful in a wide range of applications like product authentication, supply chain tracking as well as customer data management.
Dr Ieong moderated another session the next day, on the technological aspects of rolling out DLT. The panel included Mr Jehan Chu, Founder of Ethereum HK Meetup; Dr Arafet Ben Makhlouf, FinTech and Blockchain Consultant at Deloitte; Ms Connie Leung, Senior Director at Microsoft; and Mr Carl Wegner, Managing Director at R3. The panellists shared their experience in moving from Blockchain prototyping to production and deployment of DLT applications. While discussing the challenges and roadmap ahead, the panellists emphasised the importance of professional trainings on DLT, and enabling technology professionals to design and create smart contracts and end-user applications.
25 October was the ‘HKMA FinTech Day’ in the FinTech Week. At the event, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) unveiled the “Whitepaper 2.0 on Distributed Ledger Technology”. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Norman Chan, Chief Executive of HKMA, said “The findings and recommendations in the whitepaper will help devise practical guidelines for the use of DLT in the banking sector in the future.” He acknowledged that “Hong Kong has made important progress in cross-border collaboration and the research on DLT applications. The collaborative efforts and enhanced research and talent development are the essential building blocks to facilitate financial innovation and prepare Hong Kong to advance to the new Smart Banking Era.”
Mr Alan Cheung Wei-lun, Director of Advanced Digital Systems at ASTRI, was a panellist in a discussion on ‘Whitepaper on the legal, regulatory and control principles of DLT’. The session was moderated by Mr Nelson Chow, Chief FinTech Officer of HKMA. Mr Cheung explained the role played by ASTRI in the development of the DLT Whitepaper 2.0. ASTRI provided unbiased and the most up-to-date technological information and insights on DLT, including references of application implementation. Working as part of a Digital Identity Management working group that also includes HKMA and five leading banks, ASTRI had performed a Proof-of-Concept-based feasibility study on using DLT-based Know Your Customers (KYC) processes in the sector. “We provided updates of DLT platforms including public as well as permissioned applications”. Mr Cheung added.
In the workshop session on Cybersecurity, Dr Andrew Wat Yiu-wing, Director of Data Analytics and Cybersecurity at ASTRI, co-presented along with Dr Lucas Hui Chi-kwong, Founder and Honorary Director of the Centre for Information Security and Cryptography at the University of Hong Kong. The session’s topics included building a cyber-risk-aware culture in businesses, grooming a cyber-defence-ready workforce, and deploying the right tools and systems to deter vicious cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is a key focus in ASTRI’s FinTech R&D. ASTRI’s initiatives in that area include cyber-intelligence sharing, training of cybersecurity professionals and advanced cybersecurity research.
Over 5,000 financial services professionals, FinTech entrepreneurs, investors, inventors, researchers and executives from around the world discussed and debated the future of financial technologies at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2017. Senior officials and dignitaries who addressed the event included Hon James Henry Lau Jr, JP, Secretary for Financial Services and Treasury; and Mr Edward Yau Tang-wah, GBS, JP, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development; of the HKSAR Government.
Mr Lau spoke on behalf of the Hong Kong Government and its regulators saying, “We want to embrace Fintech innovators, and welcome them to the transformation of Hong Kong’s financial centre and its financial services.”
Pointing out to the fact that over 100 countries have signed up in the ‘Belt and Road’ programme, Mr Yau said that “Hong Kong can play a central role with financial and technical support” for all these economies, and encouraged Fintech companies to “make Hong Kong the launchpad for their businesses”.