Right at the heart of the Money Conf in Madrid we met with Mr. Thorsten Terweiden, the Deputy Head of Fintech for InvestHK.

InvestHK is the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government department responsible for foreign direct investment. They have set up a dedicated Fintech team in Hong Kong with correspondents in London (Mr. Thorsten Terweiden) and San Francisco.


Thorsten Terweiden from InvestHK interview.


Mr. Thorsten Terweiden joined InvestHK in 2015 and was responsible for Tourism & Hospitality and Innovation & Technology. In addition to being the Fintech leader for InvestHK in the UK and continental Europe, he also was responsible for financial services in the UK.

“We were told we should come to the Money Conf. At first, we were skeptical but then we made that decision and we haven’t regretted it yet.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK


Throsten became a Tech London advocate in November 2015 and he’s member of the TLA China and Fintech working groups.

Interview With Mr. Thorsten Terweide

Miguel Salvado: I just met with Throsten from InvestHK, at Madrid’s Money Conf. How are you?


Thorsten Terweide: I’m fine thanks. It’s really energizing and great to be here at Money Conf. We went to the Web Summit last year and we were told we should come to the Money Conf. At first, we were skeptical, but then we made that decision and we haven’t regretted it yet.

“Since our inception, in the year 2000, we’ve helped over 3000 companies.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

About the atmosphere here, what kind of people have you been talking to mostly?
A lot of founders, a lot of Fintech executives, we’ve met early stage startups and other more established companies. It’s been a good mix and it’s been right up our street because we want to meet with as many people as possible. We also met with some multipliers, investors groups and so on.

Invest HK Deputy Head of Fintech, Thorsten Terweiden, at Money Conf in Madrid.
Invest HK Deputy Head of Fintech, Thorsten Terweiden, at Money Conf in Madrid.

“The idea is to raise the profile of Hong Kong as a Fintech hub and to engage with Fintech companies.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

Tell us about InvestHk.
We’re part of the Hong Kong Government. Since our inception in the year 2000, we’ve helped over 3000 companies, not only in the Fintech industry. We have had multiple experiences working with the financial sector.

When the Hong Kong government decided, in March last year, to put a bit of focus on Fintech promotion, we were part of it. We were given some money and we set up a dedicated Fintech team that is based in Hong Kong and London, that’s myself, and one person is based in North America. The idea is to raise the profile of Hong Kong as a Fintech hub and to engage with Fintech companies.

“Our fintech ecosystem is growing. We have 138 Fintech companies as it stands at the moment in Hong Kong”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

In terms of Hong Kong, how are things going in Asia?
Things are going well, our Fintech ecosystem is growing. We have 138 Fintech companies as it stands at the moment in Hong Kong, which employs around six thousand staff. We want this to grow because it’s till nascent, but there’s potential. We see a good distribution, ie those Fintech industries in Hong Kong are active in all different verticals.

“We have a really mature and stable regulatory framework, but also some innovation. For example, the regulatory sandbox that exist under the Hong Kong monetary authority, where large banks are authorized to work with smaller Fintechs and test systems.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

We have some outstanding players like 8 Securities, robo-advisor; ANX International, the blockchain company that worked with large banks to help them renovate their legacy systems; and then many others.

I can say we have great connectivity domain in China. We have a really mature and stable regulatory framework, but also some innovation. For example, the regulatory sandbox that exists under the Hong Kong monetary authority, where large banks are authorized to work with smaller Fintechs and test systems.

“There is already talk, as you know, of banks moving out of London. There are also Fintechs, that we know of, that have said they will put their plans for the UK and European expansion on hold.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

Do you believe, with all the fears about Brexit, the UK is going to become less prominent in the financial sector?
I think the UK will definitely lose. There is already talk, as you know, of banks moving out of London. There are also Fintechs, that we know of, that have said they will put their plans for the UK and European expansion on hold. They have a ‘wait and see’ approach because of Brexit and rather focus on expanding in China. At the moment this is early days and there’s anecdotal evidence but we see this attitude. I think the tech companies in London are concerned about two things: the access to talent and the access to the single market. If a lost to that would happen, because of Brexit that’s, of course, an issue.

“They [Banks and Fintech industry] have a ‘wait and see’ approach because of Brexit, and rather focus on expanding in China.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

We’re involved with tech London advocates at Invest.com. We’re part of the China working group and also the finthech working group, we hear all these concerns. In the end, London will remain strong, it’s a very strong market and ecosystem and I think it will remain the capital of fintech in the world for some time to come.

“Tech companies in London are concerned about two things: access to talent and access to the single market”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

Do you think Dublin or Hong Kong are going to profit from the uncertainty about Brexit?
Yes, there are some potential gains, but we’re not about poaching companies away from anywhere. We want companies to grow, expand and be successful in Asia via Hong Kong. Most of the fintechs we’re speaking to have global ambitions, and they have China on their roadmap.

“We want companies to grow, expand and be successful in Asia via Hong Kong.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

We understand there has to be North-America, Europe, and Asia, and we hope Hong Kong is the best location.

“Most Fintechs we’re speaking to have global ambitions, and they have China in their roadmap.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

Tell us a bit more about InvestHK. You guys help companies start a business in Hong Kong?
We provide a free facilitation service, we help with opening bank accounts, work visas, work permits, finding the right real estate, we can make the deductions to the regulatory authorities.

“We [InvestHK] also have a network in the private sector of consultants and accountants that provide services to companies and startups, because we don’t compete with the private sector, we really are the conduit for business.”

Thorsten Terweiden, Fintech Deputy Head for InvestHK

We’re really a one-stop shop if you want. Companies can use us and we’re there to help. We also have a network in the private sector of consultants and accountants that provide services to companies and startups. Because we don’t compete with the private sector, we really are the conduit for business.

This is the first day of Money Conf. Tomorrow is the second and last day. What are your prospects for tomorrow?
Prospects for tomorrow is different things because we’ll be organizing a Fintech round-table workshop at eleven, for some startups. It will be great. I’ll also do some emceeing on stage, so we hope we can catch up with some additional companies that we haven’t met yet and have some more in-depth conversations.

*The interview has been edited for length and clarity*

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