a flag on the side of a building: Hong Kong’s finance sector has remained ‘vibrant’ despite the health crisis, as unemployment in the sector remained below 3 per cent. Photo: EPA


Hong Kong’s finance sector has remained ‘vibrant’ despite the health crisis, as unemployment in the sector remained below 3 per cent. Photo: EPA

Hong Kong’s financial sector, its use of financial technology and role as a fundraising centre for the cities of southern China have weathered the coronavirus outbreak and even thrived in some areas, according to a panel of industry players.

The city’s finance sector has remained “vibrant” despite the health crisis, as unemployment in the sector remained below 3 per cent, much better than the overall figure of 6.1 per cent , said Rocky Tung, head of policy research on the Financial Services Development Council, a government advisory body.

“The development of the (Greater Bay Area) has been continuous. The financial sector is relatively less affected by Covid. In terms of trading (and) IPOs, we are also very vibrant,” said Tung.

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He was part of a panel at a briefing hosted by The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

Just over a hundred companies raised a combined HK$211.36 billion (US$27.27 billion) in Hong Kong in the first nine months of this year, an increase of 58 per cent from 2019, making Hong Kong the world’s second most popular listing destination.

Average daily stock market transactions have soared 39 per cent to HK$125.72 billion, even as the Covid-19 epidemic raged.

The pandemic has also led to better usage of financial technology tools, as people have been forced to go online, said Tung. For instance, there was a 1.7 million increase in the number of Faster Payment System (FPS) accounts in the first eight months of 2020.

The system run by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority allows simultaneous transfer of money in Hong Kong dollars and yuan. Tung recommended expanding the use of the system to other bay area residents.

The number of average daily real time transactions reached 400,000 in July alone, marking a 40 per cent increase on the year. “The pandemic is driving the adoption of innovation,” said Tung.

Meanwhile, when Covid-19 hit China during the Lunar New Year, “mainland Chinese property developers relied a lot on the offshore Hong Kong bond market to raise funds”, said Edward Lau, deputy chief financial officer at New World Development.

Lau also noted an 85 per cent rise in New World’s mainland property sales in the second quarter while Hong Kong’s dropped 7 per cent. Its Prince Bay project in Shenzhen has achieved “amazing” sales of 9 billion yuan despite the outbreak, he said.

“Right now, China has recovered. (There is) a lot of revenge buying,” added Lau. “We see the opportunities there, demand for property.”

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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