Norman Chan Tak-lam, the former chief executive of Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said on Wednesday that he has set up a fintech company, his first major undertaking since leaving the de facto central bank last year and the latest former bureaucrat to join the private sector.
Round Dollar Wallet Technologies, backed by five investors, will offer digital payment services to facilitate cross border payments, said Chan, who will serve as its chairman.
“Many companies suffer because of the slowness and difficulties in making cross border payments and in managing foreign currency risks,” Chan said in a statement. “I hope Round Dollar Wallet Technologies can promote cross border trading and further enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre.”
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
The move to launch a digital payment system comes as global central banks race to launch to their respective sovereign digital currencies. The People’s Bank of China has been conducting tests involving its Digital Currency Electronic Payment system, with state media reporting in August that it had moved closer towards the official launch of a home-grown digital currency.
Chan, who turns 66 at the end of this month, retired as the head of HKMA last October. During his tenure between 2009 to 2019, he was instrumental in promoting fintech in Hong Kong and the launch of eight virtual banks, to inject new technology and drive competition in the local banking industry.
Chan said Round Dollar Wallet Technologies was funded by Hong Kong-based family office Bright Venture Investment, Dragonfly Round, Eminent Vision, HashKey Holdings, and ZhongAn Digital Asset Group, with each owning a 20 per cent of the company. He did not reveal their investment.
He said that the company was in the process of hiring the core team and building the platform. Chan added that he hoped to launch the services soon, mainly targeting regional trading companies.
ZhongAn Digital, a part of ZhongAn International, said in a statement that it hoped that its investment in Round Dollar Wallet Technologies would help to promote fintech in trade and commerce.
Former Financial Secretary and Chief Executive hopeful John Tsang Chun-wah in April last year joined Hong Kong’s first virtual insurer, Bowtie Life Insurance, as a senior adviser. In June 2018, he was appointed as vice-chairman of Ion Pacific, a fintech-focused merchant and investment bank.
In September 2018, former Hong Kong Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung joined as chairman of WeLab Bank. WeLab is among the eight virtual banks that started operations this year.
A graduate of Hong Kong’s Queen’s College, Norman Chan studied sociology before embarking on his career in civil service and banking. In between stints in the Hong Kong government, he served for two years as Asia vice-chairman of Standard Charted Bank from 2005 to 2007.
He is married to Diana Chan, former managing director of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority with whom he has two grown-up children. He has previously told the Post he loves to read Chinese history books, taking important lessons from the past.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong’s retiring monetary chief Norman Chan backs annuity scheme launched under his leadership last year
- Hong Kong’s monetary chief Norman Chan to retire at the end of his contract in September
- Norman Chan leads a fun tour of HKMA’s new information centre
- Former Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang joins virtual insurer Bowtie as a senior adviser
- Fintech unicorn WeLab bags Hong Kong’s fourth virtual bank licence