The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has partnered with government department InvestHK to add Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to Hong Kong’s Global Fast Track 2022. The initiative targets international fintechs with customers elsewhere to promote their solutions to corporates and partners in Hong Kong and mainland China. Applications are open until mid-September.
A broad range of CBDC solutions are relevant, including wholesale CBDC, retail CBDC, programmable money, interoperability, forex and liquidity management, and more.
The initiative involves a competitive pitching competition and the potential to work with the central bank on projects. There is a separate digital assets track as well.
“By connecting private sector leaders directly with the regulator, the track further enables Global Fast Track 2022 to provide comprehensive, one-stop support to innovators around the world, while strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a premier international fintech hub,” Charles Ng, InvestHK Director-General of Investment Promotion.
Hong Kong has been active in CBDC research at the wholesale and retail levels. It partnered with the Bank of Thailand for the Inthanon Lion Rock project for cross border payments using a wholesale CBDC. With the addition of the central banks of China and the UAE, the project evolved into the M-CBDC Bridge with the BIS.
In April, the HKMA issued a discussion paper on a potential retail CBDC, although it struggled to find motivations beyond innovation. Two months ago, it partnered with Israel’s central bank to explore CBDC cybersecurity. The HKMA has also been involved with China’s digital yuan project as it linked the digital currency to Hong Kong’s faster payments system.
On the one hand, Hong Kong has a unique position as the gateway to mainland China. But when it comes to digital currency, Singapore is more than giving it a run for its money. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has conducted one of the most extensive sets of CBDC research. It also has a multi-CBDC initiative involving four central banks, Project Dunbar. Last year it ran the Global CBDC Challenge.