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Overheard in Hong Kong During FinTech Week

Hong Kong city skyline, Grey clouds, boats in the foreground

The talks at  FINNOVASIA HONG KONG 2016 and RISE conference this week seemed to center around these key Fintech themes:

  • the ever present BlockChain but this time in a new context;
  • Machine Learning,
  • Importance of UX on fintech adoption,
  • another recurring theme of “ will banks eat the fintechs or vice versa?”

As a participant in a software company that incorporates machine learning in our solution AND believes in the critical nature of user experience (which leads to adoption which leads to more revenue captured by our customers) AND a fintech play, we cared about 3 of the 4 hot topics.   But Blockchain was REALLY interesting.

Highlights of the week thus far have included:

A fantastic Finnovasia session “Beyond Bitcoin: Blockchain is Coming to Disrupt Your Industry” covered the uses of blockchain outside of payments.   Discussed were authentication, trade financing documents, crowd sourcing of investments.  A secondary theme was that many of these technologies could be used collaboratively across the banking sector.

Masterfully moderated by  Antony Lewis, a Blockchain advisor who blogs on bitsonblocks.net, the star attraction was Vitalik Buterin , inventor of Ethereum and general whiz kid, who spoke about where he sees blockchain being used beyond payments and what the next set of challenges are for the blockchain evolution.

The panelists included:

  • Sopheap Lao, Founder and CEO – Xnotes Alliance;
  • Alistair Duff, Consultant – R3Cev and
  • Peter Stephens, Global Head of Regulatory Architecture & APAC CTO – UBS AG

They all contributed their insights on the practical applications and the related use cases.  Stephens was especially interesting, speaking about use of blockchain in smart contracts which is a real use case for collaborative document and commerce progression within trade finance for example. Smart bonds is another area UBS is testing  Background from his stellar UBS colleague Alex Batlin here:

http://fintechnews.ch/blockchain_bitcoin/alex-batlins-briefing-of-bitcoin-and-money-creation/2888/

http://www.moneycab.com/mcc/2016/04/08/interview-with-alex-batlin-head-of-ubs-fintech-innovation-lab/

Interesting sessions at RISE Day 1 included:

Surviving digital

The digital overhaul of the finance sectors can be bumpy and, for some, an exciting and lucrative road. A talk about how to survive and/or thrive, along the digital rollercoaster.

Lots of talk here about the importance of user experience.

  • Barry Freeman, Cofounder of Jimubox a point of purchase loan solution in China
  • Rohit Agarwal, Global Head of Digital Product Management, HSBC
  • Sam Allen, CEO, CompareAsia Group
  • Moderated by Elzio T Barreto, Asia Equity Capital Markets Correspondent, Thomson Reuters

Much ado about banking

The stakes are high for the financial services revolution, but so are the aspirations. Legacy banks are reacting, but are they fast and flexible enough? The stakeholders and frontrunners discuss.

Hot topic of whether the banks would eat the fintechs or vice versa.  Collaboration won the day.

  • Neal Cross, Chief Innovation Officer, DBS Bank
  • Simon Loong, Founder, WeLab
  • Kevin Phillips, Head of Corporate Development, Kabbage
  • Bipin Singh, Founder, MobiKwik
  • Moderated by Huy Nguyen Trieu, Author, Disruptive Finance

Unleashing a new generation of robots

The list of capabilities for robots is growing by the day from surveying farmland to keeping families company. Two cutting-edge companies, Zero Zero Robotics and Insight Robotics, talk about how they’re trying to make life better on a global scale through robotics.

Ethical considerations and again a recurring theme of collaboration.

  • MQ Wang, CEO, Zero Zero Robotics
  • Rex Sham, Co-Founder & Chief Science Officer, Insight Robotics
  • Gang Lu, Founder & Editor, TechNode

This article was originally published on LinkedIn on June 1, 2016.