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Hong Kong is quickly emerging as a hub for innovation. While its startup scene may have long been in Singapore’s shadow, both government tax incentives and access to funding have helped boost Hong Kong’s fintech startup scene.
With an economy is heavily dependent on financial services and real estate, Hong Kong has increased the support for entrepreneurship and incubation programs. So much so that there are now over 2,000 startups! As one of the top three financial centers in the world, many of Hong Kong’s top startups are making a splash in financial technology. Here are some of the hottest fintech startups to keep your eye on!
Cross-Border Remittance Startups in Hong Kong
Filipinos make up the largest ethnic minority in Hong Kong; these overseas workers send an estimated $770 million back to the Philippines each year. Seeing an opportunity, China’s Alibaba and Tencent entered the market to service remittance and cross-border transactions in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Now, some of Hong Kong’s homegrown startups have followed suit.
Founded in 2014, EMQ is a financial settlement startup that focuses on cross-border remittances for businesses and individuals in Asia. They offer a real-time solution that is low-cost and secure, adhering to the “complex regulations and compliance standards in different markets.” In 2017, Chinese internet giant Tencent partnered with EMQ to provide WeChat Pay HK, increasing their reach for remittance services.
Touted as the “world’s first crypto money transfer ecosystem,” Bitspark was founded in 2017 as a blockchain company providing low-cost, bankless money transfers. Individuals and businesses can cash cryptocurrencies in and out at over 500,000 designated points across Asia and Africa. Bitspark’s network depends on stablecoins, and recently became the first company to launch a stablecoin pegged to the Hong Kong dollar!
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Digital Banking Startups in Hong Kong
The increasing reliance on the internet and smartphones has given rise to Asia’s digital banking market. Not only are digital-savvy millennials and Generation Z more inclined to bank online than in a branch, but the underserved and underbanked communities in Southeast Asia also present a massive opportunity for digital banking.
Founded in 2017 by Skype co-founder Geoffrey Prentice, Hubert Shio-Hsien Tai and Lawrence Chu, Oriente brings digital financial infrastructure to millions of people and SMEs in Southeast Asia, “unlocking the entrepreneurial spirit.” Their mobile-first solutions provide regional inclusion and access to affordable credit and financial services. In 2018, they raised $108 million in their initial funding round.
Targeting Asian populations who do not use banks, TNG Fintech Group provides financial solutions to millions of people through its e-wallet platform. Digital wallets provide free and low-cost on-demand banking services across 13 countries, including bank transfers, cash withdrawals, remittance, and bill payments. They’ve recently partnered with Visa to provide prepaid solutions in six Asian countries.
Investment Startups in Hong Kong
With the rise of technology, investment banking, wealth management, and trading are entering a new phase. As the Asian market grows, the demand for online trading and financial investment will follow. Managing all of your financial assets in one place through an app helps lower trading costs and provides transparent trading solutions.
Futu Securities is an online stock trading service for companies listed in Hong Kong and the United States. Ranked as one of the top online brokerages in Asia, it creates tailored investments and a superior customer experience. With a $145.5 million dollar investment by Tencent, Futu Securities became Hong Kong’s first Unicorn startup and went public this year!
Founded in 2016, Miotech is an AI platform that turns data into insights by organizing and making sense of mass amounts of finance-related data. With this information, financial institutions can make better decisions, identify market trends and uncover hidden risks. Miotech’s strength lies in connecting the dots.
Peer-to-Peer and Alternative Lending Startups in Hong Kong
Technology is disrupting the lending landscape. Peer-to-peer, aka P2P, and alternative lending allow consumers and lenders to make transactions without going through an institutional lender. By bypassing banks, borrowers are able to access loans more quickly, and investors can make a larger return compared with traditional banks. These are two of the top disruptors in Hong Kong.
WeLab is an online lending platform that takes traditional financial services online. They launched their first product in Hong Kong in 2013:, WeLend, a peer-to-peer, no-branch, mobile-only lending platform. They quickly followed up with Wolaidai in China, which has become one of the largest mobile lending platforms in the country. Last year KPMG included WeLab as one of the top 100 fintech companies in the world!
Founded in 2016, Qupital is a digital invoice trading market for investors and debt holders. Their solution allows SMEs to quickly raise capital by connecting with investors who bid for unpaid invoices. Businesses can secure invoice finance and loans in as little as two days. It didn’t take long for Alibaba to take notice and chose Qupital as its first fintech investment in Hong Kong.
Insurtech Startups in Hong Kong
The insurance industry is also being disrupted by technology. Big Data, IoT, and AI are changing the way insurers do business. Insurtech helps companies manage risk, improve efficiency and boost ROI while simultaneously reducing costs for consumers and improving customer service.
Wesurance, the first mobile-only insurance platform in Hong Kong, wants to make insurance available to everyone through AI and eKYC. There are 10 personalized insurance plans to choose from, including personal accident, travel, and domestic helper insurance. The company focuses on simplifying the process and keeping up with digital demands on their app. You can purchase a plan on the app, gain access to a 24-hour hotline, AI assistance, and insurance claims that can be made in just three minutes.
Only one year old, Bowtie is the very first online-only life and medical insurance company to receive a license in Hong Kong. The company targets a “younger generation of customers who are tech savvy and like to do everything by themselves.” Forgoing a brick and mortar location, Bowtie can pass the savings on to consumers providing a customer-centric, commission-free product.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Startups in Hong Kong
This is the biggest year yet for blockchain and cryptocurrency venture capital investments. Already the fastest-growing blockchain hub in Asia, Hong Kong is looking to maintain its position as a leader in the region and global market.
ANX helps companies and institutions leverage the benefits of blockchain technology. Founded in 2013, ANX is a blockchain innovator, with its cryptocurrency ANXPRO, the world’s first multicurrency online exchange platform, and also launched the world's first bitcoin debit card.
Founded in 2017, LikeCoin’s tagline is “Reinventing the Like.” This essentially means that LinkCoin swaps the online likes freelance content creators receive for income. With LinkCoin, producers of quality content—original and derivative work such as photos, illustrations, videos and articles—receive monetary rewards for their creativity.
The Hottest Fintech Companies in Hong Kong
No longer in Singapore’s shadow, Hong Kong is making a name for itself as an emerging startup hub in Asia. With a mature financial industry and a focus on entrepreneurship, the city is now home to hundreds of fintech startups. The future is bright for these companies, so keep an eye on where they go! If you’re a startup founder, be sure to check out the six most common challenges startups face and how you can overcome them.