Gateway to China: Irish fintech players are hot in Hong Kong

1 Nov 2018

Image: © weerasak/

Irish fintech companies hold the keys to Asia.

Two Irish fintech companies – Global Shares and Know Your Customer – have struck strategic deals in Hong Kong, proving the door to trade in Asia is wide open if you are enterprising and innovative.

Global Shares has signed a $15m deal with Huanying International and also announced the opening of an office in Beijing. The strategic partnership with Huanying International, one of the top online brokerage firms in Hong Kong and mainland China, will provide employee share ownership plan (ESOP) administration, share dealing, global compliance, financial reporting and asset management services to new economy companies.

‘It’s heartening to see recognition from companies the world over for the Irish fintech advantage’

Client verification solution provider Know Your Customer (KYC) has finalised a deal with Hong Kong-based fintech company Neat Limited. Neat’s integration of KYC’s onboarding solution through APIs allows it to process hundreds of applications a day. The KYC solution enables it to carry out all necessary anti-money laundering (AML) and KYC checks much faster and much more cost-effectively, while delivering an extremely smooth customer experience.

The deals were announced at Hong Kong Fintech Week during Enterprise Ireland’s trade mission to China, which commenced this week and is being led by Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, TD.

“The deals we’ve seen formalised today by Global Shares, Know Your Customer and CurrencyFair at Hong Kong Fintech Week demonstrate how much value Irish fintech companies can deliver to partners worldwide,” said Humphreys. “It’s heartening to see recognition from companies the world over for the Irish fintech advantage.”

The Irish excel at fintech

In total, 14 Irish fintech companies backed by the Irish Government through Enterprise Ireland are showcasing Ireland’s fintech capabilities at Hong Kong Fintech Week. Under the #IrishAdvantage brand, the Irish companies represent fintech areas including regtech, payments, banking, insurtech, cloud communications and biometrics.

The companies include Global Shares, Daon, CurrencyFair, KYC, Solgari, Fenergo, Leveris, Fineos, Corlytics, Intuition, Priviti, Fexco, Kyckr and Circit.

In August, Dublin-headquartered money transfer player CurrencyFair revealed a major expansion into the Asian market as part of a €20m investment drive. The plan included the acquisition of Hong Kong’s Convoy Payments, paving CurrencyFair’s entry into the Chinese market. This will also open up access to the US market through Convoy Payments’ existing business.

“Historically, Irish fintech companies have performed exceptionally well in Hong Kong,” said Enterprise Ireland CEO Julie Sinnamon. “A strong cohort of over 20 Irish fintech companies are active in Hong Kong, including key players such as Fexco, Daon, Know Your Customer, CurrencyFair, Intuition Publishing, Fenergo, Fineos, Taxback International, Corvil, Global Shares and Financial Risk Solutions.

“Between them, these companies have secured significant wins with some of the world’s leading financial services companies in Hong Kong such as HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China as well as local Hong Kong entities such as the Securities & Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Jockey Club,” Sinnamon said.

On the ground in Hong Kong is Enterprise Ireland’s Mo Harvey, who told this year’s Inspirefest in June that Irish start-ups in particular need to look towards Asia and not just Silicon Valley.

“We see real opportunity in the areas of regtech, payments, blockchain and big data, and expect there to be a significant increase in the number of Irish companies entering the Hong Kong market in the next six to 12 months,” said Harvey.

“There will be a particular focus on regtech, cloud and banking companies in … Hong Kong’s new virtual bank initiative, which will create opportunities for collaboration and disruption. These companies have one thing in common: their choice of Hong Kong as their operational base to take on both the local market and expand into other Asia Pacific markets, including mainland China.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years