ASTRI sets up FinTech and ESG Alliance Signifies Hong Kong’s emergence as a green FinTech hub

[22 February 2024, Hong Kong] – The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) has inaugurated a “FinTech and ESG Alliance” today to foster a dynamic platform for exchange and knowledge-sharing. This alliance aims to enhance engagement with regulators, policymakers, incubators and accelerators, FinTech start-ups and enterprises, as well as other stakeholders to promote technological collaboration and commercialisation, bolstering Hong Kong’s role as a world-leading green FinTech hub.

ASTRI was honoured to have the Hon Jeffrey Lam, Member, Executive Council and Legislative Council, HKSAR Government, as our Guest-of-Honour, together with over 400 experts and leaders from the academia, FinTech and the green sectors witness this special occasion. Distinguished representatives from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Invest Hong Kong and several financial institutions were invited to address the seminar. The discussion covered various topics such as the digital transformation of banking and insurance industries, digital asset, sustainable finance and related policy, heralding a new era of digital innovation in financial industry.

In the Policy Address 2023, the HKSAR Chief Executive highlighted the government’s commitment to driving green and sustainable finance in Hong Kong. In addition, Financial Secretary said earlier that building Hong Kong as an international green tech and green finance hub is one of the main goals in the coming year, as sustainability is a global agenda. “Alongside promoting the development of technological solutions and providing early-stage funding support for pre-commercialised green FinTech, we’re dedicated to expanding the green FinTech ecosystem and developing Hong Kong into a green FinTech hub,” said the Hon Jeffrey Lam, who also commended ASTRI for its significant contribution in this initiative.

“Our expertise in the financial sector spans a broad spectrum, providing diversified financial products and services in banking, investment, insurance and others, which exemplifies our role as Asia’s green FinTech hub,” he added.

Technology transforms financial services
The financial sector has long been a vital pillar of Hong Kong economy, contributing to over 20% of the city’s GDP. As Hong Kong continues to evolve into an international innovation and technology hub, there is an explosive expansion in the FinTech community.

Ir Sunny Lee, Chairman, ASTRI stressed that national policy supports Hong Kong’s journey to become a global innovation and technology (I&T) hub, with FinTech playing a crucial role in smart city development. “The Alliance serves as an effective communication platform for the industry to explore the utilisation of emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain to revolutionise financial services, enhance operational efficiency, and expedite the I&T adoption to benefit businesses and the public, cementing Hong Kong’s leading role as a financial hub,” he said.

Promote FinTech adoption for ESG
To foster the development of a knowledge-based economy and enhance accessibility to financial services for both the public and businesses, the HKSAR Government actively supports the growth of financial technology. This includes promoting more FinTech services and products to undergo proof-of-concept trials, alongside the enhancement of innovative FinTech infrastructure.

Mr Joseph Chan, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, HKSAR Government said:”To better integrate Fintech with green finance and actively expand the green Fintech ecosystem, we will launch a dedicated proof-of-concept subsidy scheme for green Fintech in the first half of this year. This pioneering scheme is designed to stimulate the development of innovative technological solutions in the green sector and to offer early-stage funding support for pre-commercial green Fintech initiatives.”

Aligned with the HKSAR Government’s initiatives, ASTRI has commercialised several self-developed technologies in FinTech & ESG fields. Key projects include: (1) collaborating with Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and Hong Kong Monetary Authority to establish a proof-of-concept CBDC system focusing on safety, flexibility and privacy; (2) creating a privacy-preserving Federated Learning model to enable banks to utilise alternative data for developing new credit models and aiding SMEs in obtaining financing; (3) establishing a sandbox environment to offer private, controlled and quorum-based runtimes for assessing the performance and security of smart contracts.

With the escalation of global climate change, there is a growing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) information disclosure from listed companies worldwide. ASTRI’s “Artificial Intelligence ESG Report Analysis” technology leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning technologies to assist financial institutions in enhancing the efficiency of processing ESG report data. This innovative solution aids in meeting regulatory compliance requirements and information disclosure standard, while minimising compliance cost.

Encourage I&T collaboration
The “FinTech and ESG Alliance” marks ASTRI’s third alliance formation. Dr Denis Yip, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI said: “Building on our previous achievements, our goal is to engage with all stakeholders to develop a holistic ecosystem that paves the way for an innovative era of financial services and sustainability. ASTRI remains committed in advancing knowledge transfer and technological innovation, fostering collaboration among Alliance members and the global industry through a range of networking and matchmaking initiatives.”

ASTRI is dedicated to promoting collaboration among government, industry, universities and research sectors. This commitment aims to enhance cooperation across the I&T industry’s upstream, midstream, and downstream segments, while also nurturing Hong Kong’s financial talent pool. Over the past two years, ASTRI has entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with six local universities (HKU, CUHK, HKUST, City U, PolyU and BU) and formed two industry alliances: the “Microelectronics Technology Consortium” (November 2022) and “Smart Mobility Technology (C-V2X) Alliance” (April 2023).

The newly established “FinTech and ESG Alliance” is backed by banks, financial institutions and businesses. It aims to foster the convergence of emerging FinTech solutions and drive the digital transformation of conventional financial and insurance services to enhance operational efficiency. The Alliance is set to host a series of events for its members including talks, seminars, technology showcases, overseas missions, to facilitate collaboration among stakeholders and tap into fresh opportunities in the Mainland China and overseas, injecting new impetus into Hong Kong’s economy.

The FinTech and ESG Alliance is officially launched today (22 February) in the presence of the Hon Jeffrey Lam, Member, Executive Council and Legislative Council, HKSAR Government (centre), Ir Sunny Lee, Chairman of ASTRI (right), and Dr Denis Yip, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI (left)

Over 400 technology experts and leaders from the financial and green sectors gathers at HKCEC to celebrate the establishment of ASTRI’s FinTech and ESG Alliance

Officiating guest the Hon Jeffrey Lam speaks at the launch ceremony of the FinTech and ESG Alliance

Ir Sunny Lee, Chairman of ASTRI

Dr Denis Yip, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI

Mr Damien Green, Chairman of Manulife Financial Asia Limited delivers a keynote speech on “Insurance Redefined: Embracing Digital Innovations for a New Era”

Mr Edward Au, Southern Region Managing Partner of Deloitte China explores the factors for driving sustainable finance development

Mr Michael Law, Senior FinTech Director of Hong Kong Monetary Authority examines the opportunities and challenges involved in building a robust FinTech ecosystem in Hong Kong

(From left to right) Mr Simon Lee, ASTRI’s Director of FinTech, Prop-Tech and Art-Tech, The Hon Duncan Chiu, Legislative Council Member, Mr Albert Lo, Chief Architect, Nova Credit, Ms Michelle Mak, Leader, Head of ESG and Enterprise Learning, Dun & Bradstreet HK and Mr Ronald Young, Head of Sustainable Finance Asia, Societe Generale participate in a panel discussion on “ESG Factors in Sustainable Finance: Navigating the Evolving Landscape”

Mr Dominic Maffei, Digital Asset and FinTech Strategy Lead at Standard Chartered Bank discusses on unleashing banking transformation through FinTech and Digital Assets

Ms Teresa Lin, Advisor, BIS Innovation Hub presents a keynote address titled “Innovation, Collaboration, and Sustainable Finance: The Role of Central Banks in Driving Positive Change”

Mr King Leung, Head of Financial Services and FinTech, Invest Hong Kong discusses on leveraging FinTech to promote sustainable development

Mr Joseph Chan, Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, HKSAR Government delivers a closing remarks at the event