Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings will share its technologies with start-ups in the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) as part of efforts to promote the growth of financial technology in the city.
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Tencent will apply its technological capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data security, payment and cloud computing, to help tenants in HKSTP with their development and application of fintech. It will also boost innovations in AI, robotics, health tech and smart city, the two parties said as they signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday.
“HKSTP carries the mission of the Hong Kong government to nurture local start-up companies, which is very much in line with the mission of Tencent,” said Tim Leung, a senior director at Tencent Financial Technology.
Tencent will nurture fintech talent for budding companies through its Finance Academy initiative, he said.
Hong Kong has set a goal to become a regional hub for innovation and technology as it strives to diversify an economy heavily reliant on finance and property. The city will set aside HK$28 billion (US$3.6 billion) for research and development in universities and re-industrialisation for innovation and technology, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in September.
The new funding will add to the HK$50 billion earmarked for innovation in the government’s 2018 budget in the areas of biotechnology, AI, smart cities and fintech, on top of the HK$10 billion commitment for supporting tech industries from the year before.
About 100 of all 700 tenants in Hong Kong’s science park are fintech companies, according to HKSTP.
Tencent’s Leung added the company’s cross-border payment technology will be worth exploring in the collaboration, though details of the cooperation are still under discussion.
Tencent operates the Hong Kong version of WeChat Pay in the city, which allows local users to pay for purchases at mainland merchants, making it the first Chinese company to let users settle bills on the mainland via Hong Kong dollar since October.
WeChat Pay competes with AlipayHK, operated by Alibaba Group Holding affiliate Ant Financial Services. New York-listed Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.
Both WeChat Pay and Alipay are competing to have their respective wallets accepted as a payment method around the world to cater to China’s hundreds of millions of outbound tourists.
These travellers spent US$258 billion abroad in 2017, making them the biggest spenders globally, according to the World Tourism Barometer of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.