WEB 3 appearing behind torn brown paper

Former HKMA chief leads Hong Kong’s new Web3 institute

Hong Kong is moving ahead with its plans to become the leading blockchain technology hub in the region as it looks to launch a new Web3 institute.

According to a report from the Hong Kong China News Agency, the new Web3 association comprises key industry stakeholders and members of the legislative council. The former head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), Norman Chan, has been tipped to head the new body while China Mobile International CEO Li Feng will serve as honorary chairperson.

Chan headed the HKMA for a decade, with pundits noting that his extensive knowledge of traditional finance will put the new institute on the right path to establishing proper standards for digital currencies. Aside from creating a uniform framework, the institute is keen on deepening the talent pool in the country and facilitating greater collaboration between industry players.

The report noted that the Chan-led institute would place a premium on the monetization of data, tokenization of assets, and make a valiant effort to push traditional industries to transition toward digitalization. Since the institute membership is made up of former government heavyweights and tech entrepreneurs from mainland China, analysts say that the body could blossom into a key player in Hong Kong’s digital currency space.

The creation of a Web3 institute follows Hong Kong’s plans to launch a Web3 fund to attract digital currency firms to the city-state. Wu Jiezhuang, the co-founder of startup accelerator G-Rocket, confirmed that the Web3 fund could be the deal breaker as several fintech firms are stuck deciding between settling in Hong Kong or Singapore.

“Now many entrepreneurs in innovative industries are still choosing whether to develop in Singapore or Hong Kong. I believe that through the fund and some acceleration programs, many technical teams can be attracted to Hong Kong for development,” Jiezhuang stated.

Over 80 firms have indicated an interest in setting up operations in Hong Kong since the government announced its plans to trigger growth in the digital currency industry. Currently, Hong Kong’s lawmaking body is working on launching a comprehensive legal framework to offer clarity to investing firms.

Chinese banks are stalking Hong Kong’s moves

Since the announcement of Hong Kong’s digital currency plans, Chinese banks have been jostling to offer new firms banking services. Bloomberg reported that banking officials had been spotted at Hong Kong’s Web 3 events, while other banks have sent representatives to the offices of virtual asset service providers to close deals.

“This development is encouraging for both the industry and the broader ecosystem, as it demonstrates a maturing understanding of the crypto sector by traditional financial institutions,” OSL head of banking relations Julia Pang said.

China imposed a blanket ban on digital currencies in the summer of 2021, which led to mass exits of digital currency firms to friendlier regulations. Enthusiasts are interpreting the interest of Chinese banks as a ray of hope that the Chinese government could backpedal on its stifling ban.

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