14 July 2017 |

UBS WM uses Kowloon hub for second Asian fintech challenge

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The launch of UBS Wealth Management’s second Future of Finance Challenge in Asia – which is being held at its Kowloon office in Hong Kong – is another sign of the bank’s innovation capabilities, according to the lender’s chief digital officer for Asia, Ketan Samani. 

At the launch ceremony today, at UBS’ Kowloon office, Samani said the bank’s digital advisory platform, UBS Advice, was rolled out long before robo advisors came onto the scene – an example of the bank’s foresight, he said.

Ketan Samani

He added that over the past two years, the relationship between fintechs and financial institutions has changed from one that was competitive to one that is collaborative. 

“At the end of the day, both banks and regulators are embracing technology and the responsibilities that come with it,” he said. 

The fintech programme is open to start-ups and established firms that “think they can change the way finance works and how banks meet their clients’ needs”, according to the Swiss bank. It will look for fintechs which address four challenging areas for the industry: digital interfacing, regtech/legal tech, investment banking machine learning and data analytics. 

The application deadline is 28 July. A final round will be held on 27 and 28 September, after which time a winner will be announced.

Rewards for the regional finalists include US$80,000 in cash prizes, up to US$200,000 to fund proof-of-concept or pilot opportunities, and more than 250 hours of dedicated coaching and mentoring from UBS experts and partners.

Fintech-focused programmes
UBS is not the only bank to have run fintech-focused programmes in order to show that it is engaging with Asia’s burgeoning tech community. Citi and DBS have also held a number of challenges in Hong Kong.

A number of banks – including UBS Wealth Management, Credit Suisse Private Banking, DBS, Citi, Nomura, Standard Chartered and, most recently, BNP Paribas Wealth Management – have launched innovation labs in the region to give fintechs space to trial their solutions.

UBS WM’s Hong Kong digital hub
Indeed, just last month, UBS Wealth Management’s Amy Lo announced the soft-launch of the bank’s new lab in Hong Kong. The “digital hub”, the plans for which were first unveiled by Lo nearly nine months ago, shares the third floor of UBS’ Kowloon office with a team of private bankers who cater to Mainland Chinese HNW clients.

The Swiss lender aims to use the hub to collaborate with fintech companies by sharing and exchanging ideas while its innovation labs are used to drive more R&D initiatives. Lo said at an economic forum in Hong Kong last month that UBS will work with Hong Kong X-Tech Startup Platform (Hong Kong X), an organisation co-founded in July 2016 by Neil Shen, partner at Sequoia Capital.

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