Founder’s Letter: From Finnovasia to Finoverse
Since we founded Finnovasia in 2015, we have seen start-ups grow to become major players in markets around the world, helping more consumers access financial products and challenging the traditional way services were provided. At first this was uncomfortable for many of the established players, but in the past few years we have seen many of them invest in building their own digital platforms and solutions. Ultimately, where innovation comes from doesn’t matter, the cycle of creative destruction in the end benefits consumers.
However, we are at the start of a new chapter – Web 3. The decentralised technologies that underpin crypto and DeFi have reached a level of maturity in which they are ready for mass adoption. This will impact all the major financial verticals, from insurance to credit, but also expand out to challenge an ever greater number of use cases and markets. Web 3 will see a paradigm shift in the way we think about ownership, trust and identity – not just online but in the offline world as well.
The ways in which Web 3 will develop are unknowable, What we do know is that the people who will turn Web 3 into a reality are the same people who been driving forward these technologies for over a decade, expanding the envelope of possibility. Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it happens when we share ideas, form connections and learn from each other. Our role in the development of Web 3 is to create the platforms and professional networks that allow that to happen.
When we founded Finnovasia in 2015, FinTech was almost unknown outside a relatively small group of start-ups who saw the potential in using technology to bring competition to financial markets. It certainly wasn’t high on the agenda of incumbent banks and regulators. However, what was clear to us was that these technologies weren’t going away and would eventually fundamentally transform the way financial services are provided.
Our goal with our first conference was to bring the FinTech community, many of whom came from outside the financial sector, together with banks, regulators and investors so that all sides could learn from each other. The aim was to provide an independent platform in which all voices could be heard – a principle that we have held ever since.
Over the next 7 years, in partnership with InvestHK, we scaled Hong Kong Fintech Week from fewer than 500 attendees to over 20,000 participants coming from over 170 economies and with over 1M viewers online. We pride ourselves in bringing the most interesting speakers and companies to our events. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, spoke at one of our first events in 2016. 80 Fintech unicorns have passed through our doors, and we were amongst the first to introduce many Chinese FinTech companies such as Ant Group, Zhong An and Lufax to the wider world.
As the event grew to become an important part of the global financial calendar we partnered with global regulators and brands such as HSBC, Citi, Standard Chartered, AMTD, Crypto.com, OKX, Meta and many more. We also initiated and developed InvestHK’s Global Fintech Fast Track Programme, which annually attracts over 400 international scaleups, 90 corporates and VCs to Hong Kong.
As the Fintech industry has grown, Web 3 technologies and solutions such as DeFi and crypto have become an ever greater part of the conversation. Start-ups are developing new solutions that are difficult to categorize, often combining financial and non-financial services into a single solution. Banks see the demand for digital assets from their customers, and regulators acknowledge the need for progressive regulation. There has never been a more important time for events such as Hong Kong FinTech Week and our upcoming event, D3 Bahamas, which bring together people from across the financial industry to discuss the way forward.
Finnovasia has been at the cutting edge of FinTech innovation in Asia for the past 7 years. However, we are at an inflection point – many of the first wave of FinTech innovations are now industry standards. The new frontier is Web 3.
To reflect this, we have just announced that we will be re-branding from Finnovasia to become Finoverse. Our new name reflects both the scaling up of our focus on Web 3 technologies and our ambition to become a company with global reach.
We are proud to call Hong Kong our home, but Web 3 is borderless. Our goal is to bring connectivity to the companies and individuals developing Web 3 solutions, bringing them into a wider conversation with established players and regulators. Our next event, D3 Bahamas, will take place in the Bahamas in January 2023. We hope to launch an event in the Middle East in the near future.
D3 Bahamas will bring together disruptors from across the Web 3 industry in North America, along with start-ups from Europe and Asia ready to scale in the Americas. The Bahamas was chosen due to the government’s openness to FinTech and Web 3.
We are extremely proud of what we have built so far and the small part we have played in the development of this remarkable industry. As we embark on this next chapter we are excited to see what future will emerge.
Anthony Sar & Vila Wong