“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong,” a large-scale Hong Kong business promotion organised in London by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and supported by more than 60 UK organisations, attracted over2,100 participants from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.
Over a three-day period (19-21 September), a series of activities were held, including business missions, a gala dinner, and a full-day symposium featuring 50 high-profile speakers in panel discussions and thematic seminars, plus more than 220 business matching meetings. Returning to the UK since its launch in 2011, this flagship promotion profiled Hong Kong’s strengths as a business hub for British companies looking to expand to China and Asia. Building on the close ties between the UK and Hong Kong, businesses were urged to consider new collaboration opportunities such as technology (including FinTech), marketing and branding, creative and entertainment, as well as the potential from the Belt and Road Initiative
Margaret Fong, Executive Director of the HKTDC, said “trade and investment has been the bedrock of our business relationship”. Ms Fong also mentioned the new trade flows which are emerging and the new trade cooperation agreements which are being put into place such as the upcoming Free Trade Agreement with the 10-nation ASEAN community.
The Hong Kong delegation was led by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), who reminded the audience of the long-standing trade and economic relationship with the UK and added, “Despite the continuous opening up of the Mainland China economy, Hong Kong continues to be an ideal gateway for foreign companies, including, of course, British companies, to tap the fast-growing Greater China market. The unique advantages that Hong Kong enjoys under ‘one country, two systems’ and our very strong commercial links with the Mainland of China naturally make us the preferred location for doing business in Asia.”
Guest of honour Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy and Minister for London,said he was pleased that London is the first city to host “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” twice and commented “I strongly believe that the UK and Hong Kong are only just beginning to realise the opportunities for our partnership”.
Closer partnerships in the new economic order
The morning symposium started with a lively and upbeat panel on Asia in the New Economic Order,which covered many of Hong Kong’s defining advantages such as its legal framework and infrastructure and discussed the need to take advantage of the great opportunity that Asia currently offers. Victor Chu, Chairman, First Eastern Investment Group, described Hong Kong as “buzzing, active and at the cutting edge of innovation and the best bridge to China and other parts of Asia”; while Douglas Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc, describing the Belt and Road Initiative as “one of the most exciting concepts ever to have been conceived” and a “huge opportunity for Asia”.
Navigating Belt and Road opportunities through Hong Kong
The Belt and Road Initiative, described as currently the largest and most important global development plan, was a recurring key theme of the day and featured in The Belt and Road Initiative: Partnering for Prosperity panel discussion during the main symposium as well as in the thematic session Hong Kong: Gateway to Belt and Road Opportunities, co-organised with the HKMA Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO).Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, ARUP Group Ltd, described the Belt and Road as a modern global initiative that is “more than a growth story, it is a story about the fundamental choices we face as a shared society”. Laura Cha, Chairman, Financial Services Development Council, Hong Kong, explained that “financing demand is where the Hong Kong advantage comes in – it is the primary market for Chinese companies to access capital”.
Tapping the Chinese mainland and Asian markets
According to a recent research among 1,000 UK companies commissioned by the HKTDC, the biggest opportunities that businesses recognise for launching into the Chinese mainland is its huge consumer base (42%), followed by its growing middle class (35%) and ability to be early adopters of technology (27%).
The thematic session Doing Business in China and throughout Asia highlighted the opportunity around Asia’s burgeoning middle-class consumers and the importance of e-commerce in expanding into this market with Michelle Leung, Senior Vice President, Fung Omni Services, Fung Group, explaining how easy it is to kick-start setting up a business in just two to three months. The changing nature of business was highlighted by Jonathan Cummings, Chairman, FITCH Hong Kong, who said “ten years ago, it was all about the big brands, consumers are becoming more and more market savvy and niche brands are gaining popularity”.
Exploring Hong Kong’s FinTech ecosystem
Hong Kong, as an international financial centre with a highly developed information and communications technology infrastructure, is well-positioned to become a premier FinTech hub. In the thematic session on the topic of Hong Kong: Asia’s FinTech Capital, Dr Lee George Lam, Chairman of Hong Kong Cyberport, opened by saying “China is the largest FinTech market in the world and it is growing”.Dr David Chung Wai-keung, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, added “Hong Kong will become Asia’s FinTech Capital” as Li Shu-Pui, Executive Director, Financial Infrastructure, HKMA, confirmed that “any Chinese companies wanting to go global come to Hong Kong first”.
Strengthening UK-China cooperation in innovation
As UK enterprises expand into Asia, Chinese mainland and Asian companies are also looking for international investment and business opportunities with UK companies. Hong Kong is the ideal facilitator to help both sides find the right partners, matching relevant businesses together and providing professional services throughout the process.
The fourth thematic session UK-Sino Investment Partnerships in Innovation and Technologiesfocused on how the “connectivity” between Hong Kong, China and the UK helps businesses start and grow in Hong Kong. Speakers were positive in their outlook for Hong Kong’s position, with Shusen Meng,President, China Unicom Global Ltd, commenting “I have no doubt that Europe and the rest of the world will rely on Hong Kong as a super connector”.
“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”website: http://www.thinkasiathinkhk.com/2017
“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” video: https://youtu.be/HxwFWYC2lb0
“Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” London 2017highlightsvideo: https://youtu.be/-HqJZgb5L38
|Addressing the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” symposium held in London on 21 September, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), highlightsHong Kong’s long-standing trade and economic relationship with the UK, as well as the unique advantages Hong Kong enjoys under “one country, two systems” and its close relationship with the Chinese mainland|
|Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy and Minister for London, says he is pleased that London is the first city to host “Think Asia Think Hong Kong” twice and comments “I strongly believe that the UK and Hong Kong are only just beginning to realise the opportunities for our partnership”|
|In theAsia in the New Economic Order panel discussion, Douglas Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc, describes the Belt and Road Initiative as “one of the most exciting concepts ever to have been conceived” and a “huge opportunity for Asia”
|Speaking at the Belt and Road Initiative: Partnering for Prosperity panel discussion, Laura Cha, Chairman, Financial Services Development Council, Hong Kong, explains that “financing demand is where the Hong Kong advantage comes in – it is the primary market for Chinese companies to access capital”|
|The Doing Business in China and throughout Asiathematic sessionhighlights the opportunity around Asia’s burgeoning middle-class consumers and the importance of e-commerce in expanding into this market. Jonathan Cummings, Chairman, FITCH Hong Kong, says “ten years ago, it was all about the big brands, consumers are becoming more and more market savvy and niche brands are gaining popularity”
|Dr David Chung Wai-keung, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the HKSAR Government, says “Hong Kong will become Asia’s FinTech Capital”|
In the UK-Sino Investment partnerships in Innovation and Technologies thematic session, Shusen Meng,President, China Unicom Global Ltd, says “I have no doubt that Europe and the rest of the world will rely on Hong Kong as a super connector”
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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