The Fintech Facilitation Office (FFO)

The FFO was set up in March 2016 to facilitate the healthy development of the fintech ecosystem in Hong Kong and to promote Hong Kong as a fintech hub in Asia. Among other things, the new office acts as -

  • an initiator of industry research in potential application and risks of fintech solutions;
  • a platform for exchanging ideas of innovative fintech initiatives among key stakeholders and conducting outreaching activities;
  • an interface between market participants and regulators within the HKMA; and
  • a facilitator to nurture talents to meet the growing needs of fintech in Hong Kong.

HKMA’s general stance on fintech

  • The HKMA, as a regulatory authority, stands ready to embrace technology and changes that emerge in the course of fintech development.
  • We have always put great efforts in striking a right balance between retaining appropriate flexibility for innovations, while making sure that customer interests are properly safeguarded during the course of fintech development.
  • Specifically, the HKMA adopts a risk-based and technology-neutral approach in its supervision. This means that when developing and implementing regulatory framework and requirements, we will only base on the intrinsic characteristics of the financial activities or transactions, and the risks arising from them.
  • As a central bank and a regulatory authority, the HKMA would thoroughly assess the nature of different fintech services and products, their benefits, risks, legal and control implications, when developing corresponding regulatory frameworks and standards. We would also maintain close contacts with the industry and regulators in other jurisdictions, and review, whether any of those developments calls for a revision of the existing regulations.

Collaboration

  • MoU signing with ASTRI, Cyberport and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks

The HKMA signed bilateral MoU with ASTRI, Cyberport, and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks in November 2016 to formalise the framework of cooperation in facilitating the development of the local fintech industry.

  • Co-operation Agreement signing with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority

The HKMA entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in December 2016 to foster collaboration between the two regulatory authorities in promoting financial innovation. The two authorities will explore collaboration on a number of areas such as referrals of fintech firms, joint innovation projects, information exchange, experience sharing and secondment, in order to facilitate financial innovation in the two jurisdictions.

  • Co-operation with the Office of Financial Development Service of Shenzhen

The HKMA and the Office of Financial Development Service of Shenzhen Municipality (OFDS) agreed to strengthen co-operation between the two cities to create a more favourable environment for the development and use of fintech. In particular, it was agreed to provide reciprocal soft-landing support for fintech firms, offer internship opportunities for students in Hong Kong and organise fintech events.

Apart from collaborating with FCA, the FFO has been actively engaging other central banks and international associations on fintech development. For instance, the FFO worked with ADB in January 2017 to organise a fintech workshop for regulators from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Besides, the FFO is exploring with Luxemburg on possible collaborating initiatives; and Germany on a potential fintech related staff exchange program.