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Cybersecurity and Israel's booming fintech space
FinTech
<p>Cybersecurity was high on the agenda this week when a delegation of Israeli startups gathered in Hong Kong for the 2nd Israeli FinTech Forum.</p> <p>The event, hosted by the Consulate General of Israel of Hong Kong and Macau alongside FinTech HK, saw a total of 11 companies showcasing their businesses to attendees.</p> <p>Sectors varied from payments and big data analytics to software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, but security was overwhelmingly the biggest fintech sub-sector. Here are some of the start-ups that presented:</p> <p> Algosec (Cyber securuty)<br /> Beyond Security (Cyber securuty)<br /> BondIT (Portfolio managament)<br /> Checkmarx (Cyber Security)<br /> CyberInt  (Cyber Security)<br /> OffLA (Cyber Security)<br /> Pronto.ly (Payments)<br /> SentinelOne (Cyber Security)<br /> ThetaRay (Big Data)<br /> Wisesec (Payments)<br /> 2 Team (SaaS)</p> <p>Israel is a natural hub for the fast-growing cyber security industry which offers a range of fintech solutions including fraud preventation and anti-hacker software.</p> <p>The sector sits at a crossroads between the Israel's hi-tech industry and its sizable defense sector. The synergies are such that Israel startups are now poaching military and intelligence officers to give them the competitive edge in the space, according to the Wall Street Journal.</p> <p>For its part Hong Kong could be a big investor in Israeli cyber security. During the event, Sagi Karni, Israel's Consul General in Hong Kong, told the audience that in the last three years VC flows from Hong Kong to Israel's tech industry totalled $500 million, and the number is increasing.<br /> Photo: istock</p>
China funds did pretty well in September
Hedge Funds
<p>High-profile hedge funds like Pershing Square and Third Point may have been hammered in September, but according to China Money Network, their China-focused counterparts didn’t do too bad:<br /> “Greater China-focused hedge funds gained 1.26% in September, compared with the CSI 300 Index, which was down 4.86%, and the global hedge fund index's 0.58% decline during the month, according to data released by industry data tracker Eurekahedge.</p> <p>The gain compares with a decline of 6.55% in August for China-focused hedge funds. Asia ex-Japan was the best performing regional index during the month, up 0.67%.”<br /> Unfortunately, a hulking 42% of them are still underwater, and yes, 1.26% doesn’t really make you go “hmmm,” but still, their performance has so far eclipsed those of their North American peers (-1.34%) as well as those of their South American rivals (-2%).</p> <p>They still have a long way to go to beat their Australasian counterparts though; Aussie and Kiwi-focused funds apparently gained a whopping 7.37% in the same time frame, quite the hurdle to jump.<br /> Photo: Charles LeBlanc</p>
Is Xiaomi losing its magic?
Venture Capital
<p>For a while now venture capital-backed smartphone maker Xiamoi has been the darling of Asian tech, disrupting incumbants left and right, but new sales data shows that the firm may be losing some of its lustre.</p> <p>Tech in Asia reports that the firm may be feeling the effects of a China slowdown, citing several reports that indicate Xiaomi might be fall short of its revised goal to ship 80 to 100 million units this year.</p> <p>Xiaomi is yet to release it Q3 sales figures but the consensus among research firms is that the hype might be wearing off. That said, most agree the firm could still be on course to shift around 70 million units, which is still an awful lot.<br /> Photo: nijanthan_v</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
A Blockchain Alliance has been formed – not everyone is happy
FinTech
<p>As part of the industry’s ongoing fight for legitimacy, a group of blockchain companies have decided to club together and form the Blockchain Alliance in order to better aid law enforcement. Some in the industry are alarmed.</p> <p>Created by Coin Center and the Digital Chamber of Commerce, two Washington D.C. trade associations, the Alliance is a private sector initiative intended to create a forum whereby enforcement agencies and regulators can share information and get technical assistance from the industry on blockchain. </p> <p>Some 16 companies and organizations – see the release for a full list – have agreed to work with a several government enforcement groups including:</p> <p> The FBI<br /> U.S. Marshals Service<br /> U.S. Secret Service<br /> Immigration and Customs<br /> Homeland Security<br /> Commodity Futures Trading Commission</p> <p>Needless to say, in a post-Snowden world, this does not chime well with some liberty-loving bitcoiners. Knowing this, the Alliance has stressed that it will not be a backdoor for the government to get info on companies and their customers but rather a “higher level discussion about typologies, trends, and technical issues.”</p> <p>That said, there is still some skepticism and debate on both Reddit and on the Bitcoin community forums over the extent to which the bitcoin community should be engaging with The Man. People like Bitcoin foundation director Bruce Fenton and Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen have weighed in on either side of the argument. And then there are the twitter reactions: </p> <p>New Blockchain Alliance is a big step to ensure Bitcoin is used for innovation, not crime. Well done, @coincenter. https://t.co/lTrkf8DEeD<br /> — Rep. Jared Polis (@RepJaredPolis) October 22, 2015</p> <p>Blockchain Alliance -- at first glance, a profoundly bad idea https://t.co/Vini88Nt7g<br /> — Bruce Fenton (@brucefenton) October 22, 2015</p> <p>Value your privacy? DO NOT use any of the products or services listed in this Article. https://t.co/VfeCLTYIlN</p> <p>— Samourai Wallet (@SamouraiWallet) October 22, 2015</p> <p>@lightcoin Fintech is getting into Bitcoin that is why we nee</p>
Bankers in Hong Kong run from sunset to sunrise at Barclays MoonTrekker 2015
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>Barclays Moontrekker, now in its seventh year, is Hong Kong’s leading annual night hiking and running fundraising event. Participants either completed the Moonlit 30km or the Sunrise 43km, reports FinBuzz.</p> <p>The race was held in Mui Wo (on Lantau Island) and finished at Pui O Beach. Runners in the 43km race began at the race after the sun had set and ran through the hills of Hong Kong, including Lantau Peak, which has a peak of 934 meters, with the goal to cross the finish-line before sunrise. The Sunrise 43km began at 8:45 pm and the Moonlit 30km started at 11:20 pm. Results are available here.</p> <p>Participants entered as a solo, pair, team of four or corporate team of four and are required to raise a minimum sponsorship amount of HK$650.</p> <p>Employees from Barclays dominated the event with 300 out of the total 1500 participants hailing from the bank. The number of participants is limited to 1500 for safety reasons.</p> <p>William Sargent, Founder and Event Director of Moontrekker, saw a growing demand for competitive events back in 2009, “but rarely did those events focus on the experience. I wanted to create something slightly different, fun and challenging,” he explained.</p> <p>Sargent, a long-time night hiker, launched Moontrekker as a side project. It was completely booked within six weeks and seven years later that demand has only increased.</p> <p>About 90 percent of participants work for multinational companies and more than two-thirds work in finance or professional services, Sargent says. “There are very competitive types in the finance field, anything related to health and the outdoors they do well. You would think that if they did it one year, then that’s enough, but it gets even more competitive within departments, year to year,” he added.</p> <p>“The experience of hiking in the night is far more exhilarating and intense than during the day, as it’s mostly pitch black, quiet, and you only have a stream of light to follow. The party at the finish line is epic, and it’s always fun to see what crazy outfit wins best dressed,” said a trekker, who wished to remain anonymous. “Even though it’s competitive between certain banks, in particular, there’s still a great vibe. The training is very harsh, though, if you aren’t that fit and not for the faint of heart.”</p> <p>Over the past six years, Moontrekker has raised HK$7,500,000 for charities including Room to Read, which supports literacy.</p> <p>The Nature Conservancy (a global conservation organisation working to protect ecologically important lands, waters for nature and people) was nominated this year, as participants wanted a charity based in Hong Kong (rather than seeing donations go elsewhere) that was inline with the event’s ethos.</p> <p>This story (with pictures) first appeared in FinBuzz.</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: Edwin Lee</p>
Think about the little guy, Fitch warns Fed
Capital Markets
<p>A couple of weeks ago the IMF raised the specter of widespread corporate debt defaults and economic misery in emerging countries that could cause a 2008-type sclerosis in the international financial system. Now here’s another report warning the Fed about being too parochial as it ponders an interest rate hike.</p> <p>Fitch Ratings points out that vulnerable emerging markets are already a threat to global growth as a collapse in commodity prices and political shocks worsen secular slowdowns.</p> <p>“Our latest forecast for global growth of 2.3% in 2015 is the weakest since the global financial crisis in 2009. Against this backdrop, the Fed's looming tightening of monetary policy after an unprecedented period of historically low rates will add to the macroeconomic and external financing pressures on emerging markets (EM),” notes Fitch.</p> <p>“EM bonds were boosted in the last decade by international investors' search for yield and increased funding disintermediation in local debt markets. This makes EM borrowers vulnerable to rising US rates and the reversal of previously strong capital flows,” Fitch adds.</p> <p>The most exposed? Turkey, followed by most of Latin America.<br /> Photo: bass_nroll<br /> &nbsp;</p>
Value Partners gains cross-border fund license in China
Asset Management
<p>Wild domestic stock price fluctuations and the heavy hand of state manipulation of markets are encouraging foreign fund managers to tap China’s vast pool of savers. It’s not just international investors who struggle to cope with A-share volatility; Chinese investors can benefit from more diversification.</p> <p>Yesterday, Value Partners said it would roll out its own-branded cross-border funds in the Mainland’s domestic fund market, having picked up the first Qualified Domestic Limited Partner (QDLP) license by a Hong Kong fund management firm.</p> <p>“Currently, the vast majority (99.4%) of Chinese households’ assets are held in RMB with only 0.6% denominated in foreign currencies. In the wake of the recent stock market rout and the depreciation in Renminbi (“RMB”), Chinese investors are seeing an increasing need to diversify their portfolios and explore opportunities in overseas investments.  Value Partners is preparing to launch its first QDLP fund before the end of the year.  The QDLP fund will appeal to yield-chasing investors who look to diversify their investments across Asia,” said Value Partners in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Photo: Photo: up to 2011</p>
Fight is on for new HSBC HQ
Capital Markets
<p>The U.S. is looking like the top contender in the competition to hold HSBC's headquarters, as the largest European bank looks to leave the U.K, reports The Financial Times.</p> <p>Not that we're biased or anything, but the U.S. does make an awesome HQ location...<br /> Photo: istock </p>
Daily Scan: Hang Seng climbs 1.34% as Draghi rally reaches new heights
Capital Markets
<p>Updated throughout the day</p> <p>October 23</p> <p>Good evening everyone. With Super Mario ready to reload the stimulus bazooka, Asian shares capped the week on a high note Friday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Japan’s Nikkei Average both hit their two-month highs today, while China’s Shanghai Composite posted its third week deep in the red. Here’s the score this week:</p> <p>&nbsp;<br /> Day<br /> Week</p> <p>Hang Seng Index<br /> +1.34%<br /> +1.02</p> <p>Hang Seng China Enterprises Index<br /> +1.34%<br /> +1.79%</p> <p>Shanghai Composite<br /> +1.30%<br /> +0.68%</p> <p>Shenzhen Composite<br /> +2.94%<br /> +2.53%</p> <p>Nikkei 225<br /> +2.11%<br /> +3.06%</p> <p>Straits Times Index<br /> +1.11%<br /> +1.63%</p> <p>The European markets meanwhile look set to post their third straight weekly gain. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 has so far climbed 1.32%, while France’s CAC and Germany’s DAX have each jumped 1.30% and 0.69% respectively. As for Wall Street, it seems to be geared up to join the party too, with S&amp;P 500 futures climbing 0.12% at pixel time.</p> <p>Here’s what else you need to know:</p> <p>Japan “flash” PMI hits 19-month high. Japan’s manufacturing sector rebounded sharply this month, with the Nikkei Flash Japan Manufacturing PMI coming in at 52.5 – its highest level since March 2014 – versus a 50.5 reading expected by analysts. It also beat September’s final reading of 51. Markit</p> <p>PNG to resettle Manus Island refugees.  Papua New Guinea (PNG) is to begin resettling refugees from the controversial Manus Island immigration detention center, Australia has said. Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the move would allow refugees there to "have a fresh start." BBC</p> <p>South Korea GDP growth rebounds in third quarter. South Korea’s economy picked up pace in the third quarter, helped by rising consumption and construction activity, but weak exports ensured it remained on course for a full-year slowdown worse than official targets. Financial Times (paywall)</p> <p>Korean families say their final farewells. North and South Korean families were forced to say their last goodbyes on Thursday after meeting for the first time in more than 60 years. On the third and last day of their all-too brief reunion in a North Korean mountain resort, the families were given two hours in the morning to say their last goodbyes. Channel News Asia</p> <p>UK backs China bid for EU free-trade pact. Britain yesterday threw its weight behind China's effort to reach a free-trade pact with the European Union, as the two countries issued a joint statement during President Xi Jinping's state visit. South China Morning Post (paywall)</p> <p>Japan, China, South Korea to reinstate annu</p>
Financial Times journalists move closer to work action
Lifestyle, 4:01
<p>It didn’t take long for the ink to dry on a relatively rich Financial Times buy-out offer before the new owner decided to adjust the employee benefits.<br /> Nikkei doesn’t finalize the purchase of the Financial Times until February, but it got to work on one issue very quickly<br /> When news broke on July 23 that Nikkei purchased what is arguably one of the jewels of business journalism, paying £844m or near $1.3 billion, media watchers considered that the Washington Post sold to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million and they wondered if a successful media business model might be changed.</p> <p>That answer came even before the deal to acquire the firm was finalized. The acquisition of the FT Group doesn’t close until November, but Nikkei was quick to begin work to adjust its compensation model for those that create and control the quality of the product: journalists. Planned changes to newspaper’s pension policy was an initial target in the wake of the record setting purchase price for the previously independently operated business publication.<br /> Financial Times union categorizes quick pension moves as “robbery” as journalists authorize step towards industrial action<br /> Journalists are striking back at the action, which FT management has downplayed as not impacting compensation. But categorizing the move “pension robbery,” the National Union of Journalists apparently disagreed. They organized FT employees who voted to instruct NUJ representatives to begin the process of balloting for industrial action which could result in a work action or potential disruption. The dispute in the press room appears to have gotten volatile.</p> <p>“Staff are in open revolt over plans to cut the cost of pensions,” Steve Bird, FT’s NUJ chapel, told theGuardian. “Hundreds of senior staff will see their pensions cut by up to a half in order to pay rent on the FT building,” indicating a new cost sharing structure. “Whatever financial constraints Nikkei have placed on the FT are being passed on to journalists.”</p> <p>Bird and the NUJ worked to pass a motion condemning Nikkei and FT management for “failing to honor promises” and maintain equivalent terms of employment following the takeover, the Guardian report said. Bird, who manages the union’s response to the situation, had expressed concern when the deal was first announced.<br /> “The FT chapel will do whatever it takes to protect jobs, employee rights and independent, quality journalism,” he said on the day the deal was announced, his fears materializing sooner rather than later. “We were all very concerned at the speed at which the deal seems to have been made. The chapel is now considering putting together a charter setting out our principles on editorial independence and working practices.”<br /> FT management gets wordy in acknowledging they are considering pension changes, but says it is not a cost cutting effort<br /> FT management has a different version of events. In what the Guardian described as “a lengthy statement,” odd for a business that often generates success through succinct prose, management termed the union’s claims that the new pension plan is a cost-cutting measure as “categorically untrue.”</p> <p>“It has never been the objective of FT management or Nikkei to cut costs through pension changes,” an FT spokeswoman told the Guardian. “This proposal is about supporting the long-term strength and sustainability of the FT, and building a consistent and fair scheme for all o</p>