Q&A: Founder of HK fintech firm NexChange Juwan Lee on the future of Asian fintech landscape

By Tsering Namgyal

NexChange is one of the early birds in the Asian fintech industry, best known as an organizer of its flagship event: Hong Kong Blockchain Week, by far the biggest blockchain event in the city. While it is best known as the organizer of FinTech events, it has bigger ambitions. Blockchain Asset Review spoke to the founder of NexChange Juwan Lee on his views on fintech and blockchain in Asia, and how he is turning NexChange into a full-fledged, next-generation financial services company for the digital age.

Q. NexChange is an innovative HK fintech marketplace and one of the early birds in the industry? Please explain what exactly does NexChange do, besides organizing large scale conferences?

A: NexChange is a venture innovation and media platform, specialising in fintech, blockchain, AI, healthtech and smart cities.  By creating a global O2O community, we create, market, invest into and access innovative products through the three divisions within the NexChange Group:

  • Media – creating an ecosystem within blockchain, fintech, AI, healthtech and smart cities through events, content and social assets.

  • Digital Asset Management – investing, advising and accelerating companies that create innovative products.

  • Digital Investment Bank – advising and acquiring companies that create innovative products.  We source deals, create mergers and acquisitions, and facilitate exits.

The three main pillars of the business work seamlessly together to create synergies beyond the sum of the parts.  

Q. Your view on the fintech and blockchain in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore? What are the opportunities in the area, especially with the burst of the crypto bubble?

A: We are more encouraged that the crypto bubble has burst and now the companies with real business models have to perform and prove themselves.  We are particularly interested in the use cases for blockchain in financial services, gaming and healthtech industries.

We believe the next big opportunity in both fintech and blockchain in Hong Kong will be the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) innovation hub. The GBA, integrated by high-speed rail is connecting Hong Kong to Shenzhen, Guangzhou and 69 million urban residents.  It will be the largest innovation hub in the world. There will be a reciprocity of bank accounts and uniform standards for KYC/AML. This creates numerous opportunities for digital banking – fintech and blockchain companies. We see Singapore showing a lot of promise for it to be the hub for the securities token offering (STO) for Southeast Asia.  We are seeing a number of startup digital exchanges setting up there.

Q. What events you are planning to host in this year and next? 

A: Events are just a small piece of our overall business. We provide events to build brand, community and deal flow. Our main focus for events is to focus on one main event Hong Kong Blockchain Week 2020 (HKBCW), which we have already finalized the dates as 2 – 6 March for next year.  Supplementing our main event, we will have a few meetups, the next one will be Healthtech O2O on 29 May. We have already secured some high profile speakers for HKBCW 2020. NexChange Group’s main focus for the future will be to build out our digital investment banking and digital asset management divisions.  NexChange’s goal is to become a digital financial services company.

Q. How many people have so far attended your fintech events, especially Hong Kong Blockchain Week?

A: NexChange has held over 60 events in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, London, Moscow, Seoul, New York, San Francisco and Toronto. Over 40,000 people from 100+ countries have attended our events in Fintech, Blockchain, and Healthtech.  Recently NexChange was the main organizer for Hong Kong Blockchain Week, the largest blockchain event ever in Hong Kong. We attracted in excess of 4,000 people from over 50 countries, more than 250 investors, over 175+ speakers, beyond 100 journalists and over 15 side events. The full spectrum of blockchain professionals, industry thought leaders and top business speakers gathered in Hong Kong for this landmark global event.

Q. How is the regulatory framework for cryptos and blockchain evolving? What are some of the stumbling blocks towards the mainstream adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies?

A: Changing regulation means that crypto and blockchain industries are growing up and becoming institutionalized. We will see more enterprises getting involved, especially large banks and technology companies.  Up until this point, cryptocurrency regulation has been very reactionary. We believe self-regulation is starting to have more impact. The main stumbling block for adoption will not be regulations for blockchain, but it will be finding real use cases for it.

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