Caixin
Oct 16, 2020 04:16 AM
FINANCE

Former HKMA Chief Norman Chan Sets Up Digital Payment Firm

Photo: Norman Chan Tak-lam on his last day as the chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Sept. 30, 2019.
Photo: Norman Chan Tak-lam on his last day as the chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority Sept. 30, 2019.

Norman Chan Tak-lam, the former chief of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, set up a digital payment company to help trading companies manage foreign exchange risks and facilitate cross-border payments, he said Wednesday.

Round Dollar Wallet Technologies was registered July 16 with issued share capital of $50 million and paid-in share capital of $10 million, according to registration information.

Chan will serve as chairman of Round Dollar, which is backed by five investors: ZhongAn Digital Asset Group, a unit of Chinese online insurance company ZhongAn; Hong Kong-based family office Bright Venture Investment; blockchain investors Dragonfly Round and HashKey Holdings; and Eminent Vision. ZhongAn also owns a licensed virtual bank in Hong Kong. Each investor owns 20%.

The company’s board consists of six directors: ZhongAn Technologies International President Xu Wei, ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Ltd. Chairman Ou Yaping, HashKey Chairman Xiao Feng, Dragonfly partner Feng Bo, China Boqi Environmental Solutions Technology (Holding) Co. nonexecutive director Zheng Tuo, and Yu Fanyun, whose registered address is the same as YF Capital, a venture capital firm co-founded by Jack Ma and Yu Feng.

“I hope Round Dollar Wallet Technologies can promote cross-border trading and further enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center,” Chan said. Many trading companies face choke points in cross-border trades, including delays and difficulties in making cross-border payments as well as exchange rate risks, he said.

The company will introduce a composite currency unit called the “round dollar,” an account-keeping and payment unit based on a combination of regional currencies. Compared with using a single currency for pricing and settlement, the round dollar will help foreign trade companies in Asia to manage foreign exchange risk, the company said.

Chan discussed establishment of a regional digital currency in April. In an interview with Hong Kong newspaper Sing Tao Daily, Chan proposed such a regional currency based on the Hong Kong dollar, the yuan, Japan's yen and South Korea's won. He also proposed an e-wallet platform for corporate customers making use of latest blockchain and cloud technologies.

Chan retired as chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, last October. As a veteran central banker, he was named an executive director and later vice president at the creation of the HKMA in 1993. During the 1998 Asian financial crisis, Chan played a key role in the HKMA’s fight to defend the Hong Kong dollar and Hang Seng Index against speculative attacks led by American billionaire investor George Soros.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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