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Budget Speech

Financial Infrastructure

41.    Apart from ensuring a better flow of people and goods, Hong Kong has been enhancing its financial infrastructure for a smoother flow of capital.  Three main components of the financial infrastructure, namely the interbank Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) systems, debt securities settlement and custodian systems, and system links for cross-border transactions.  These provide multi-currency and multi-channel platforms to handle local real-time transactions in Hong Kong dollar and major foreign currencies, covering global banking, equity and debt markets.

42.    The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has been actively promoting electronic payment systems to boost the operational efficiency of enterprises and banks.  With the launch of the first Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment platform last year, the public can now receive and schedule payments for various types of electronic bills online.  Major bill-issuing departments of Government are expected to be on board by the end of this year to facilitate the online receipt and settlement of bills such as water charges and rates.

43.    In collaboration with the Hong Kong Association of Banks, the HKMA has issued the Best Practice for Near Field Communication (NFC) Mobile Payment in Hong Kong to ensure the steady development of the market.  Four objectives are set out in the Best Practice, namely "multiple payment services on a single NFC-enabled mobile phone, service continuity despite switching mobile network operators, service continuity despite changing phones, and a high level of security".  Meanwhile, an "e-cheque service" is expected to be launched in the latter half of 2015.  The service allows individuals and enterprises to issue or deposit e-cheques via the Internet, thus cutting the time and cost for handling cheques by banks.

44.    In last year's Budget, I proposed to introduce a licensing scheme to regulate stored value facilities (SVF), in order to ensure financial stability of SVF issuers, and to protect and manage the transactions properly.  The proposed regulatory regime will foster the development of local e-commerce and relevant information technology (IT) sectors.  We received general support as well as constructive suggestions from the public during consultation.  We seek to introduce the relevant bill into this Council in the next legislative session.

45.    We are committed to strengthening the capacity of our trading platforms.  We are set to implement a scripless securities market with enhanced efficiency and investor protection.  Government plans to introduce the relevant bill into this Council in the first half of this year.



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