Asia’s post-pandemic reboot
Hong Kong’s future as a business hub for fintech startups was the topic of a Greater Bay Area Initiatives webinar, held April 26, 2022, with venture capitalists and unicorn founders. Organized by Silicon Dragon and sponsored by Invest Hong Kong, the webinar attracted startups and entrepreneurs who are interested in expanding Asia-Pacific footprints.
Three sessions included a VC Panel, Bay-to-Bay (San Francisco and China Greater Bay Area) and Tech chat with three fintech innovators from wealth management, fintech unicorn and ESG investment focuses. Following are highlights:
VCs and unicorn founders are actively participating in varied Hongkong sectors, such as financial services, fintech and healthcare, in the post-pandemic economy. Some VCs have even expanded their deal counts over the past two years.
From a VC perspective, most were not impacted by the Covid lockdown, as they were mostly focused on monetizing existing portfolios. If anything, the travel restrictions were inconvenient but easily overcome by using Zoom and other digital meeting platforms.
In terms of Covid’s impact on short-term and long-term investments, all three VC speakers stated it’s all about the horizon of investments and about how individual investors weather the uncertainties to capture good assets sales and market opportunities.
The Hong Kong fintech ecosystem is well established in the B2B space and talents in the region remains a competitive advantage compared to other regions in southeast Asia. According to Melisa Guzy, cofounder and managing partner from Arbor Ventures, the best companies are built when markets are underperforming. When the market is down, savvy investment activities are up as opportunistic investors take advantage of sales and discounts.
The group offered three additional observations about underperforming markets:
First, valuations will go back to normal, and second, lots of companies will resume hiring good talent. Third, the opportunistic companies will die and there will be less competition. according to Andrew Tang, partner of Draper Associates.
Sean Randolph, senior director from Bay Area Council Economic Institute shared research on electric and autonomous vehicles, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, comparing fintech activity in the Bay Area (Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau) Bay area to a gigantic laboratory. Researchers also mentioned global fintech activities are surging despite market uncertainties, providing the overall impression that market volatility will not directly impact business operations.
The founders of Airwallex shared their successful story of how to start from a coffee shop to a fintech unicorn to build a financial infrastructure that empowers other business owners to do business globally. During Covid, the company expanded quickly and currently has 1000 employees in 19 locations in the world.
Partner at LYSTAR GROUP
Tracy Lai provides strategic and business development solutions to executives, and entrepreneur. Her professional experience includes work at Fortune 500 companies including Intel and RBS, and startups. Her expertise covers business development, risk management, project management and investor relations, in Financial Services, FinTech, Innovation, Technology and Education. As management consultant and FinTech advisor, she holds multiple senior roles with focus on cross border and cross industry collaboration, including projects in US, Asia and Europe.