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HK 2016-17 Budget: Govt to get serious about blockchain

John Tsang, Financial Secretary, Hong Kong GovernmentIn the 2016-2017 budget speech by the Financial Secretary for the Hong Kong Government, one piece of initiative stands to have deep and lasting implication for the financial services (FS) industry. John Tsang (pictured) announced the government will encourage the industry and relevant organizations to explore the application of "Blockchain" technology in the financial services industry, specifically towards reducing suspicious transactions and bringing down transaction costs.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a digital distributed general ledger recording that activity happened, when it happened, and that it happened correctly, without exposing any confidential details about the parties involved. Its anticipated applications go beyond mitigating fraud or lowering the cost of doing business.

Understanding the still limited awareness around blockchain and its commercial applications, the government has appointed the Cyberport to provide training to the industry through its incubation program to promote relevant technologies, including blockchain, for developing more services and products.

Pindar Wong, chairman, Verifi (Hong Kong) Pindar Wong, chairman of Verifi (Hong Kong) says that Blockchain is another Internet and applauds the government's effort to focus on blockchain training at Cyberport. Quite possibly unique to Hong Kong, the first blockchain workshop titled Scaling Bitcoin Hong Kong was conducted at Cyberport in December 2015.

"Clearly we don't need a new generation of web programmers. We need a new generation of Blockchain Smart Contract Programmers to build a future we can all believe in. As early pioneers in enjoying a free and open Internet, the Blockchain will help our youth build an 'Internet of Trust', not an 'Internet of Threats' for the Internet of Things. In so doing we will help China move from 'Made in China' to 'Trust in China'... via Hong Kong. Blockchain is our space program for Hong Kong's best and brightest," he added.

That said, the 2016-2017 budget speech goes beyond blockchain to recognize the influence that mobile, artificial intelligence and financial technologies (fintech) have in enriching consumer experience in managing their finance as well as providing financial institutions (FIs) with tools to improve operational efficiency.



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