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Asian Financial Forum (AFF) returns to explore collaborations




The 17th Asian Financial Forum 2024 (AFF), co-organised by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), is set to take place on 24 and 25 January 2024 (Wednesday and Thursday) at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC). This year’s AFF, themed Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow, will be the first significant financial and business event in the region this year, bringing together over a hundred speakers, influential figures in the financial industry, global policymakers and business leaders. Speakers will thoroughly analyse the global economic outlook, actively promote collaboration in accordance with the policies of national and HKSAR governments, explore sustainable economic development models and collectively identify the abundant opportunities for multilateral cooperation. The Forum is expected to draw over 3,000 elite professionals from financial and business sectors, to facilitate fruitful exchanges and strengthen ties among industry leaders.

Luanne Lim, Chairperson of the AFF 2024 Steering Committee and HSBC’s Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong, said: “The year 2024 is expected to be characterised by a slowdown in inflation and potential rate cuts. The focus of markets will be on the timing and extent of policy easing, as well as elections in multiple countries and regions. In these complex times, the Asian Financial Forum serves as a valuable platform for exchanging diverse perspectives and supporting multilateral cooperation. The collective wisdom of experts speaking at the AFF will give the participants a deeper understanding, enabling them to make well-informed decisions in the year ahead.”

Dr Patrick Lau, Deputy Executive Director, HKTDC, said: “Amidst global uncertainties and geopolitical tensions, accompanied by various challenges, new market opportunities and partners are emerging. To build a sustainable and inclusive development model, close communication and cooperation among nations are crucial. With the theme Multilateral Cooperation for a Shared Tomorrow, this year’s AFF will explore economic policies and multilateral cooperation opportunities among governments and governments (G2G), governments and businesses (G2B) and businesses and businesses (B2B) from multiple angles. It will also address a range of timely market-related issues, further promoting sustainable development and showcasing the advantages of Hong Kong as an international financial centre.”

This year’s Forum will encompass diverse events, including over 40 thematic discussions, policy dialogue, keynote luncheons and breakfast panel, and workshops. These sessions will explore pressing topics such as the global economic outlook, opportunities in Mainland China, investment prospects, green finance, financial technology and interest-rate trends. Their objective is to provide participants with valuable insights into internationally relevant issues and global economic development trends. These events will boost Hong Kong’s ties with the international community, fostering greater connections and generating more business opportunities.

ASEAN, Middle East market opportunities take centre stage as thematic discussions expand

ASEAN and the Middle East, with their considerable economic potential, hold crucial position in driving global multilateral cooperation. This year’s Forum has garnered enthusiastic responses, and a surge in participation from ASEAN, the Middle East and other parts of the globe is expected. To facilitate broader discussions and embrace sustainable economic development, the Plenary Sessions have been expanded from one to two, enabling financial leaders from ASEAN, the Middle East and other regions to convene and deliberate on future fiscal policy trends. Topics of significant focus will include the opportunities in the mainland, ASEAN and the Middle East.

On the first day of the AFF (24 January), Christopher Hui, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury of the HKSAR, will preside over two Plenary Sessions. At the morning Plenary esteemed speakers including Ali bin Ahmad Alkuwari, Minister of Finance of Qatar; Julapun Amornvivat, Deputy Minister of Finance of Thailand; Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance of Egypt; and Marko Primorac, Minister of Finance of Croatia, will share their countries’ respective outlooks on financial policies. At the afternoon Plenary, distinguished speakers including Muhammad Al Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank; Prof Hala Elsaid, Minister of Planning and Economic Development of Egypt; Alexandra Jour-Schroeder, Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union at the European Commission; Suahasil Nazara Vice Minister of Finance, Indonesia and Dilma Rousseff, President of New Development Bank, will analyse the influence of multilateral cooperation on regional economic development, financial crises and sustainable economic growth.

On the same day Eddie Yue, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, will host the Policy Dialogue where esteemed representatives from the Asian Development Bank, Central Bank of Mongolia, Deutsche Bundesbank, Dubai Financial Services Authority, and International Monetary Fund will convene under the theme Towards International Economic and Financial Cooperation to exchange perspectives on global monetary policies.

Global leaders and Nobel laureates take the stage at keynote luncheon sessions

Another noteworthy aspect of the Forum will be two Keynote Luncheons featuring esteemed guests. Prof Jeffrey D Sachs, President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Prof Douglas W Diamond, Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences in 2022 and Merton H Miller, Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, have been invited to deliver insightful speeches. Prof Sachs will delve into the topic of sustainable development, while Prof Diamond will discuss the future trajectory of United States Federal Reserve interest rate moves and the risks associated with economic development.

Dialogue with Bob Prince added as a special session

An additional session, Dialogue with Bob Prince, has been added to this year’s AFF on the second day. Mr Prince, Co-Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, will appear to share valuable investment insights and provide perspectives on the importance of multilateral cooperation.

Staying ahead of market trends with Stewarding China’s New Chapter and CIO Insights

In response to dynamic market opportunities and evolving industry trends, this year’s AFF will introduce Stewarding China’s New Chapter and CIO Insights, closely aligned with market conditions. The session Stewarding China’s New Chapter seeks to explore the mainland market potential and analyse collaborative prospects with other regions, underscoring the role and advantages of Hong Kong. CIO Insights will bring together chief investment officers from renowned international institutions to share unique perspectives on the investment landscape within the current macroeconomic environment. The HKTDC and Knowledge Partner PwC will also present the findings of a joint survey on the industry’s views and outlook on artificial intelligence. The results of this survey will be announced on the first day of the Forum.

The highly anticipated Global Economic Outlook, Global Spectrum, Dialogues for Tomorrow, and Fireside Chat sessions will return, covering topics such as asset and wealth management, insurance and risk management, multilateral capital market cooperation, food technology and supply chain security, financial technology, RMB internationalisation, financial technology, Web 3 and virtual assets, impact investing, and financial cooperation in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and Islamic finance. Prominent speakers include Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, Chairman of Société Générale; Fang Feng-lei, Founder and Chairman of HOPU Investments; Jenny Johnson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Franklin Templeton; Nicolas Moreau, Global Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Asset Management; Thomas Tsao, Co-Founder of Gobi Partners; Anil Wadhwani, Chief Executive Officer of Prudential plc etc.

AFF Deal-making and exhibition connect investors and start-ups, driving innovation

To facilitate more substantial cooperation, the HKTDC and Hong Kong Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (HKVCA) are co-organising the AFF Deal-making. This platform enables participants to engage in one-on-one meetings, connecting them with funds and investment projects from around the world. The event will focus on key industries such as financial technology, environment, energy and clean technology, medical technology, deep technology and consumer goods. This year’s AFF Deal-making is expected to attract about 200 investors and approximately 400 projects. Following the conclusion of the Forum, participants can utilize online matching services for virtual meetings until 30 January (Tuesday) to continue exploring key opportunities in different fields.

The Forum continues to feature exhibition zones including Fintech Showcase, Fintech HK Startup Salon, the InnoVenture Salon and Global Investment Zone to introduce cutting-edge applications of financial technology and showcase future unicorn innovation concepts. The exhibition zones are expected to bring together over 140 local and global exhibitors, international financial institutions, technology companies, start-ups, investment promotion agencies and sponsors, including Knowledge Partner PwC, HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS, China International Capital Corporation (CICC), Huatai International, Cyberport and more.

The Global Investment Zone includes participation from countries such as Canada, Dubai, Egypt, Finland, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mainland China, Malaysia, Mauritius, Portugal and Spain. Investment promotion agencies from these countries will introduce local investment environments and potential projects on-site. The InnoVenture Salon is dedicated to supporting start-up development and provides a platform for more than 100 start-ups to connect with international investors and potential partners, of which 60 fintech start-ups from Hong Kong, Australia, Austria, France, Japan, Korea, the Mainland, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam under the FintechHK Startup Salon will showcase innovative concepts in areas such as AI, blockchain, insurtech, payment technology, regulatory technology, and wealthtech.

Exclusive offers for AFF participants

As the first major financial and business event in the region for the year, the AFF is committed to telling the good story of Hong Kong and promoting large-scale events or exhibitions. Organisers have arranged experiential activities for overseas participants, including one-time privileged access to the airport lounge, free admission to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, 1-hour night tour of Hong Kong aboard an open-top Big Bus or Hong Kong’s iconic Aqua Luna red-sail junk boat arranged by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Furthermore, participation in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2024, dining discounts and guided tours by the Lan Kwai Fong Group, dining discounts at Harbour City and Times Square, and discounted passes for Hong Kong attractions through Klook will be available. These initiatives aim to provide overseas visitors with a firsthand experience of the vibrant colours, rich culture and dynamic lifestyle that Hong Kong has to offer.

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Revolut introduces robo-advisor service in the Republic of Ireland





Revolut, the global financial super-app with a customer base exceeding 35 million worldwide, has recently unveiled its Robo-Advisor service in Ireland.

The company, known for its innovative approach to banking and financial services, aims to simplify the investment process for its users.

The introduction of the Robo-Advisor is a response to the growing demand for accessible investment options. Many potential investors find the research and management of investments time-consuming and complex, especially those with limited trading experience or those who cannot dedicate time to actively manage their portfolios.

Revolut operates as a financial super-app, offering a wide range of services from traditional banking to cryptocurrency trading. The app is designed to be a one-stop solution for users’ financial needs, making it easier to manage money in a fast-paced digital world.

The new Robo-Advisor service is designed to automate the investment process. By answering a series of questions, customers can have a fully diversified and customized portfolio created for them. This portfolio is then automatically managed, with investments made based on the customer’s risk tolerance and financial goals. The minimum investment to access the Robo-Advisor is EUR 100, with an annual management fee of 0.75% of the portfolio value.

Additional features of the Robo-Advisor include the ability for customers to set up recurring transfers from as little as EUR 10, allowing for regular portfolio growth and minimization of the impact of market volatility. The service also automatically rebalances portfolios and conducts periodic reviews to ensure alignment with the customer’s investment objectives.

Rolandas Juteika, Head of Wealth and Trading (EEA) said, “We are excited to add a Robo-Advisor to our suite of wealth and trading products. We know that many of our customers do not have the time to manage a portfolio or invest in individual securities. In fact, 53% of customers we surveyed last year said they simply don’t know where to start when it comes to investing. Built to make investing more accessible, we want to give our customers the ability to make their money work for them in what we believe will be a tailored and stress-free solution.”

Revolut’s recent expansion of its investment offerings across the EEA, including shares of European listed companies and the introduction of Trading Pro for advanced traders, highlights its commitment to providing comprehensive financial solutions. With over 2,200 US-listed securities, 220+ EU-listed securities, and 270 ETFs available through the app, Revolut continues to enhance its platform, making investing more accessible to a broader audience.

Investment services in the EEA are provided by Revolut Securities Europe UAB, which is regulated by the Bank of Lithuania. While Revolut aims to make investing straightforward and efficient, it’s important for customers to remember that investments carry risks, including the potential for loss and currency fluctuations.

Source: Fintech Global

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Hawk AI welcomes new general manager Robin Lee





Hawk AI, a front-runner in AI-driven solutions for fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) surveillance, has recently announced the strategic appointment of Robin Lee as General Manager for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.

Tobias Schweiger, CEO of Hawk AI, expressed his enthusiasm about the new addition to their team. “I’m very pleased to welcome Robin Lee to Hawk AI. He brings deep expertise in regulatory compliance and outstanding knowledge of the anti-financial crime sector. He’s also an exceptional leader with an entrepreneurial spirit and infectious energy. We’re excited to have someone of his caliber onboard.”

Lee is also highly engaged in global financial crime fighting initiatives, currently serving as Vice-Chair for the APAC Chapter of the Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime and as the Global FinTech Liaison for the US Department of Justice’s FinTech Sector Public Dialogue (FSPD), its public-private partnership focusing on FinTechs.

On joining Hawk AI, Lee shared his excitement, “I’m delighted to be joining Hawk AI. The Hawk AI platform is streets ahead of other vendors in the sector, with explainable AI that has been built-in from the ground up and an integrated approach to tackling financial crime that delivers truly extraordinary results for customers.

“I’ve also been deeply impressed by the Hawk AI team. They’re an exceptional group of people, combining world-class technologists and seasoned financial crime-fighters. I’m very proud to be part of their continued growth.”

Since its inception in 2018 by finance industry veterans, Hawk AI has shown remarkable growth. The company now plays a pivotal role in monitoring or screening billions of transactions worldwide. Its unique approach, leveraging explainable AI, has set new industry standards by significantly reducing false positives compared to traditional AML/Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) solutions.

Hawk AI’s modular solution offers financial institutions a powerful tool to either enhance or replace legacy systems with AI-powered transaction monitoring, payment screening, pKYC, and fraud prevention capabilities, ensuring greater accuracy and efficiency in real-time.

Source: Fintech Global

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Velexa launches new Fractional Bonds feature: Making elite investments accessible to all





Velexa, recognised as a top WealthTech100 company, has recently unveiled its latest innovation: fractional bonds. This new feature is a significant addition to their comprehensive suite of investment tools, designed for both embedded and standalone applications.

Following the successful implementation of fractional shares, Velexa’s move to introduce fractional bonds marks a strategic step towards making high-quality bond investments accessible to the mass retail market.

The introduction of fractional bonds by Velexa is set to revolutionize the investment landscape. This feature enables institutions to offer retail investors the chance to explore a diverse portfolio of over 300 high-quality corporate and government bonds. These bonds span major markets, including the US and the EU, and are available for investment with minimal initial sums.

This approach to asset fractionalisation—splitting a high-value asset into smaller, tradable units—is gaining momentum among capital market players. Despite the popularity of fractional shares, the bond market has remained relatively untapped, mainly due to its complexity and the high entry barriers for retail investors.

Historically, the bond market has been the playground of institutional investors, largely due to the high entry costs and the intricate trading mechanisms involved. Many bonds come with minimum investment requirements set by the issuers or dealers, typically in increments of $10,000, and often trade in lot sizes exceeding $100,000.

This structure has effectively sidelined retail investors, making it difficult for them to access bond investments. Velexa’s fractional bonds initiative aims to dismantle these barriers, opening up the bond market to a broader audience and democratizing access to what has traditionally been an elite investment domain.

Tamara Kostova, CEO of Velexa, emphasized the transformative potential of fractional bonds, stating, “With the roll-out of fractional bonds functionality, Velexa is taking a significant step to make the bond market more accessible, offering a lower-cost entry point into this vast market.

“More investors will be able to diversify their portfolios, potentially reducing risk and enhancing possible returns. As a company on a mission to democratise wealth generation through investing, building the right tools to empower retail investors to achieve their financial goals is a focal point in the way we design our technology.”

Velexa’s commitment to enhancing the personal investing experience extends beyond the launch of fractional bonds. The company’s API-based platform and solutions are designed to enable customers to offer a personalized and robust investment experience to their end-users. The modular technology allows for easy integration of new functionalities into existing channels and apps through Velexa’s Investing API solution.

The debut of fractional bonds is more than just an expansion of Velexa’s investing toolkit; it represents a crucial shift in the personal investing landscape. By bridging the divide between large-cap investments and the individual investor, Velexa is setting the stage for retail-focused institutions such as banks, neobanks, brokers, and exchanges to expand their customer base and cater to the diverse needs of the next generation of investors.

Velexa is a pioneering WealthTech company dedicated to democratizing the wealth management industry. Its B2B2X investing technology platform enables client institutions to tap into the growing demand for modern and ubiquitous investing solutions among new generation investors.

Source: Fintech Global

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