SuperCharger FinTech Accelerator successfully launched its second programme on January 9 in the newly opened Cyberport FinTech Smart Space.
SuperCharger welcomed its cohort of 8 FinTech start-ups and scale-ups - Bambu, Clare.ai, Entersoft, FinChat, Foris, KYC Chain, Squirro, and Xnotes Alliance - who will be collaborating with and learning from leading FinTech professionals over the next three months in the largest FinTech space in Asia.
The Launch Day attracted over 200 people from the Hong Kong FinTech community and presented an opportunity for the new cohort to connect with an extensive network of entrepreneurs, investors and finance experts. Ms Veronika Kuznetsova, Managing Director at SuperCharger, announced the reformulated programme and reinforced the goals of the finalists leading up to the Public Demo Day on April 11 at HKEx Trading Floor: “We are committed to delivering results for our participants through driving long term growth for their businesses, facilitating valuable partnerships and opening doors to help them establish a strong foothold in the Hong Kong market. The lasting success of the start-ups directly translates to success of the programme.”
Representatives from Standard Chartered Bank and Fidelity International, Main Partners of SuperCharger, delivered speeches about the renewed drive for FinTech in Hong Kong in relation to the city’s existing role as Asia’s financial hub. Mr Paul Wan, Standard Chartered’s Interim Chief Information Officer for Hong Kong, said: “Standard Chartered is proud to be the main partner of SuperCharger for the second consecutive year. We believe that innovative ideas brought by the 8 FinTech finalists will help bring technological advancements to the Bank’s products and services. With the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s FinTech Supervisory Sandbox up and running, Standard Chartered is committed to supporting Hong Kong’s FinTech ecosystem and leveraging these cutting-edge technologies to improve our customers’ experience.”
Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), a government department tasked to attract foreign direct investment into Hong Kong, is one of the sponsors of SuperCharger, The department collaborates with entrepreneurs, accelerators and innovation labs to promote Hong Kong as a key FinTech hub in the region. Its newly established FinTech team provides one-stop support to FinTech companies and entrepreneurs planning to set up or expand their presence in Hong Kong.
Mr Charles d’Haussy, Head of FinTech, InvestHK, said: “We’ve seen a significant growth of FinTech start-ups in Hong Kong, an increase of around 38% in 2016 than a year before (source: InvestHK, HK’s Startup Ecosystem Survey 2016), according to our latest startup profiling survey. InvestHK welcomes Fintech start-ups by offering free, customised and confidential services from planning, set-up, launch to expansion. Together with the help of the accelerators, start-ups can find plenty of opportunities in this vibrant FinTech hub.”
The launch of SuperCharger 2.0 took place in a timely lead-up to the StartmeupHK Festival 2017, an initiative by InvestHK that showcases the city’s start-up scene and technological innovations. From 16 to 20 January, the festival will bring together global and local founders, innovators and investors to hold interactive discussions, panel sessions and competitions on a wide range of topics. The festival is the second event of its kind organised by InvestHK following the success of the inaugural Hong Kong FinTech Week in November 2016. In order to build the momentum of the active FinTech scene here, the FinTech Finals 2017 will come back again to HK, as one of the highlights of the festival, in which the selected local and global companies will compete for the prize of US$10,000. 3 companies from SuperCharger - Bambu, Clare.ai and KYC Chain - have also been selected to pitch in the finals, reasserting the role of accelerators in supporting the growth of start-ups.
With an increase in the number of technology start-ups by 24% from last year (source: InvestHK, 2016 Start-up Profiling Survey), accelerator programmes could serve as a sustainable model to propel the local FinTech ecosystem, as demonstrated by SuperCharger and a strong track record of its alumni: Neat has launched a private beta of Neat Mastercard that enables contactless payments in connection with its own budgeting app, amassing 150 users within a month; Funding Societies has raised US$7.5 million from Sequoia Capital to build a P2P lending platform; Amareos has partnered with Thomson Reuters to combine financial services and AI analytics technology for making informed investments; WeCash, the first online credit assessment platform and solutions in China, was listed as Top 40 Leading Global Innovator under Leading Global FinTech Innovators in 2016. MicroCred has secured US$71 million capital investment for its expansion in China and the development of their Internet finance strategy. Gatecoin has partnered with MicroCred to scale beyond Asia into Africa.
As such, the HKSAR government continues to launch innovative projects to bolster Hong Kong’s role as the nexus for growth in FinTech. The government has injected HK$5 billion into the Innovation and Technology Fund and another HK$2 billion into the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund to support start-ups. Most recently, the signing of MOU between Hong Kong and Shenzhen to develop the Innovation and Technology Park together, and the open of the largest FinTech co-working spaces in Asia at Cyberport demonstrate the determination of Hong Kong to become a global FinTech hub. Such efforts have proven fruitful, as demonstrated by an increasing attraction of global FinTech companies to Hong Kong and success stories by the local start-ups (source: SCMP, Fishing for FinTech). Mr Janos Barberis, Founder of SuperCharger, emphasized the need for continued synergy between the public and private sectors for endorsing the city’s FinTech scene, particularly for the development of top talents:
“FinTech in Hong Kong is maturing and this year we can expect a focus on Human Capital Development. A number of initiatives to develop talent have been announced, and SuperCharger is fully involved in that respect. This year, in collaboration with Austern Company and Standard Chartered Bank, we plan to train over 40 students throughout the 3 months of the accelerator by directly placing them with our 8 companies.”
In recognition of the need for human capital investment in FinTech, formal education and training schemes have been set up. The Chinese University of Hong Kong will be commencing the world’s first FinTech undergraduate degree next year (source: CUHK, CUHK Faculty of Engineering Launches First-ever FinTech Undergraduate Programme in Hong Kong). HKMA and ASTRI has launched the FinTech Career Accelerator Scheme (FCAS) with the support of 11 banks and 9 universities (source: Hong Kong FinTech, The HKMA and ASTRI launched the FinTech Career Accelerator Scheme). As such, collaboration between accelerators, financial institutions and universities is vital in fostering talented graduates to cater to the growing FinTech industry. SuperCharger, as a part of the education initiative, looks forward to sharing experiences with participating graduates in the second programme.