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Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023: How AI is redefining fintech

Experts gathered to discuss how AI is having a “transformative” impact on fintech and how to adapt for the future.

Experts gathered to discuss how AI is having a “transformative” impact on fintech and how to adapt for the future.
Experts gathered to discuss how AI is having a “transformative” impact on fintech and how to adapt for the future.

Within the rapidly evolving fintech landscape, and AI as the newest Holy Grail of tech, experts explored how these two topics intersected at the eighth annual FinTech Week in Hong Kong. This year’s theme was “Fintech Redefined,” bringing together leaders of innovation, technology, and finance. 

Organized by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, InvestHK, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the Insurance Authority (IA), the conference ran from Nov. 2 to 3, attracting 30,000 attendees, with more than 500 exhibitors.

In the session “Beyond the Hype: The Real Impact of AI in Fintech” Stephen Choi, co-founder and CTO of trading platform Asklora, said they use generative AI in financial advisory, adding that AI has had, and will have, a transformative impact on fintech.

“This is where all of the investments are going, especially in the US,” he said, noting that some larger firms are dedicating their teams to tackling the first line of interaction to track the signals back from the client. 

Prompting the AI with, “Can you say this in a more human-like manner, and then talk to the user?” is getting them the result.

“So it’s not the robotic chat-bot that we’ve been seeing for the last five years,” he said.

Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures. Photo courtesy of Dave Gordon

Adapting responsibly to AI and tech advancements

Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, spoke on the topic of rethinking artificial intelligence, asserting that it’s imperative to govern how it’s being used.

“You can use it to spread disinformation, to build a bomb and plan the next 9/11,” he said. “We need guardrails, so regulation is needed. It’s two wheels moving forward — one is regulation to protect people and enforce government laws, and then let technologists teach AI platforms not to say things that could hurt people.”

The session “New Technology Frontiers: How AI will Disrupt the Financial Service Industry” also dealt with security issues facing AI.

Wendy Wong, global chief information officer at HSBC noted: “This AI trend has been dropping like a storm. No tech has been adopted so fast. There’s so much experimenting — so many people doing things. At HSBC bank we have a thousand test cases. But we’re also putting in framework and governance to make sure we’re using it responsibly.”

Meanwhile, Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the UK’s  Financial Conduct Authority, said the recent UK AI Safety Summit was important.

“We need wide collaboration on the benefits and risks, that will require global regulations to avert a potential increase in flash crashes,” he said.

Rathi ended with a prediction: “We can expect every twelve months, some kind of disruptive change, the way we organize our institutions, or the way the market behaves. Our workforce will need to constantly reskill and that will be fundamental.”

Where AI can add value for B2Bs looking to make a digital transformation

During the “Fireside Chat with the Pioneers” session, leaders of global Web3 companies discussed the decentralised fintech market and what lies ahead. Presenter and attendee Steve Rosenblum, founder of Libertify.com, said that AI for B2Bs can lead to increased efficiency and enhanced customer experience, depending on the company’s goals. 

“Your company needs to determine where AI can add value; for example, automating repetitive tasks, and productivity improvement,” he said. “Maybe this will save the economy in the long run. If we look at the past hundred years, the world [becomes] better when it improves productivity.” 

Libertify is a software-as-a-service platform that, using AI, touts itself as helping “personalize actionable investment decisions, based on users’ risk profiles, aiming to minimize drawdowns, and optimize portfolio performance.” Rosenblum added that these insights “neutralize the cognitive biases – that is, eliminates human emotions, and risk-manages the portfolio.” The information is then distilled, and presented through video content.

“Now it’s mainly processing documents, with CRM, from the supply chain, to make the right decisions quicker,” he said.

Given his experience in new technology, he recommended B2Bs train employees on AI concepts and tools — further suggesting that companies design AI solutions with scalability in mind to accommodate growing data volumes and user demands.

“Building an AI-ready workforce is crucial,” he said. “This will help employees understand the technology and its implications on their roles.” 

Importance of taking risks

In the final analysis, Rosenblum said he believes the Asia-Pacific region may outpace other parts of the world in AI in the foreseeable future, owing to the abundance of caution demonstrated by other parts of the world.

“We can see the real difference in speed between Asia and Europe. You [can easily] meet the C-level guys in Asia, you can access them quicker, and it’s a quick yes-no for a pitch. Within a week, we got a lot of interest, versus things that would have taken me over six months in France. The pace of business in Hong Kong is much quicker,” he said. 

“They want to implement innovations, but in Europe they are much more conservative. Probably because the financial sector is so regulated and slows down things, at the end of the day, because it’s about risk-taking, and no one really likes risk-taking.” 

Final takeaways

Attendee Peter Cook is an executive director of Australian stock exchange listed Novatti Group Limited, and the Chairman of the Australian dollar backed stablecoin AUDD.  

He said the conference had a high level of focus on digital assets, which include CBDCs, stablecoins, tokenization of securities and NFTs. 

“The energy and innovation in Asia for digital assets enterprises is high,” he said. “The conference allowed me to meet with many investors and industry partners to drive awareness of our Australian dollar-backed stablecoin.”

As many speakers attested, game-changing opportunities are afoot for fintech with regards to business growth. True to the conference’s theme “Redefining Fintech,” the combination of artificial intelligence and Web3 technologies are revolutionizing every aspect of business. 

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Written By

Dave is a journalist whose work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets around the world, including BBC, National Post, Washington Times, Globe and Mail, New York Times, Baltimore Sun.

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