The 13th Asian Financial Forum (AFF) has concluded in Hong Kong with participants pinning high hope that innovation including emerging technologies could help address challenges amid an uncertain global economic landscape.

More than 100 influential global financial experts, policymakers, business leaders, economists and investors attended the two day event to exchange views on the global economy and explore new opportunities.

They believed that although the outlook for 2020 is ridden with uncertainties and the slowdown of global growth is expected to persist for some time, Asia is emerging as the growth engine of the global economy.

Asia Remains Engine of Growth

Though about 40 percent of the participants of the forum expressed pessimism about the global economic perspective for 2020, they expected that Asia will continue outperform the rest of the world, with China as a strong propeller.

Margaret Fong, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, said the Chinese economy, which is transforming from high-speed growth to high-quality development, will continue to be a locomotive of long-term growth in Asia.

She believed that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan and the Belt & Road Initiative will continue to tap opportunities for the region and the globe.

Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said his Country has implemented an Eastern opening strategy as they understand that the changes of the global economy have been implemented by the East at least as much as by the West already.

“Last year, 38 percent of the new jobs in the Hungarian economy has been created by Chinese, (South) Korean, Japanese investors,” he said.

The major challenges for global growth in 2020 are trade tensions between major economies, technology and cross-border investment, intensifying geopolitical risks and limited headroom for monetary and fiscal policies to support growth, according to a poll organised during the forum.

AI – LED New Technologies to Reshape Industries

Nowadays, economies are exploring growth through innovation and technology, as they pinned hope that innovative solutions would help address structural issues and bolster global growth.

About 60 percent of the attendees believed it is “likely” or “very likely” that innovative solutions, such as the development of Fintech and sustainable finance, would help address the current challenges.

The financial technology (Fintech) innovation, led by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain, brings forward new business models.

It helps improve efficiency, reduce costs and make inclusiveness Possible

In a pair of the survey during the forum, AI was chosen by most attendees as the one that will lead to the largest breakthrough in the development of financial services and it was also chosen the most like the one that will pose the greatest risk to financial services development.

AI is reshaping banking. According to a report released recently by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), almost 90 percent of the surveyed retail banks have adopted or plan AI applications.

Opening bank accounts and applying for loans were hard for small- and micro- businesses in Hong Kong, however, AI has facilitated the verification process by improving efficiency and reducing costs, said Ryan Fung, Chief Executive of Ping An OneConnect Bank which has been granted a virtual banking licence to operate in Hong Kong by the HKMA.