[This article is contributed by Carlo Pandian who is a business graduate interested in finance, start-up and technology. He also writes tutorials on Intuit QuickBooks Online and has previously contributed to tech blogs such as Under30CEO, Startup Malaysia and Bisnis Startup. Carlo loves to investigate new media trends and share his thoughts with online tech communities.]

For many, Hong Kong has been synonymous with finance for decades, and it is still one of the world’s leading international finance sectors. According to official government statistics in 2008, the financial services sector contributed 16% of Hong Kong’s GDP, while the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the world’s sixth largest. The territory is home to a great many institutions and organisations providing products and services to customers and investors throughout the world, and the sector continues to grow.

In our increasingly technological age of mobile technology and social media, the finance sector too is rapidly developing a technological element, and this is reflected by many of the financial services start-ups currently coming out of Hong Kong.

Innovating financial services with technology

The Financial Engineering and Technology Corporation (FETC) is one such start-up. FETC provides a range of financial technology solutions to investors. Their flagship product is the ProVesor app, which pulls together data from across the world to help individuals and businesses to manage their investments in real-time and on the go. The firm was founded by a collective of financial engineering experts from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The firm’s intensive research background has made it possible for them to find a real niche for themselves in financial engineering products.

Another Hong Kong financial services start-up that is leveraging app technology to its advantage is DemystData, who also have offices in New York & Sydney. Their aim, as quoted on their official website, is to “unleash the power of data.” This is done through their product, also called DemystData, which makes it possible for banks, card issuers and online lenders to aggregate data on their customers. The product allows real-time analysis of profiles, and is already being used by a number of large banks around the world.

Hong Kong – A ‘hub for innovation’?

Online investing is also becoming big news. 8securities have made it their ‘mission’ to innovate in this area. They’ve done this by providing access to a customisable trading portal with a fully integrated social network where like-minded people can get to together to share investment and trading ideas. The trading platform also lets users select what news and feeds they want to see, further customising their experience. Co-founder Mikaal Abdulla recently gave further insight into the firm’s philosophy when talking to TechInAsia – “For all of its strengths, Hong Kong cannot emerge as a hub for innovation until people can come to terms with the simple fact that risk is a necessity to drive change.”

Private Investor Collective, meanwhile, is innovating by creating an online community portal where investors can find suitable advisors. The platform makes it possible for investors to thoroughly review a variety of professional data, referrals and public sources before making a choice.

Finance start-ups elsewhere in the world

Not all the innovation is happening in Hong Kong, though. Elsewhere in the world, US-based StockTwits are also offering investors their own ‘financial communications platform’. According to the firm, the platform is already used by more than 200,000 investors to share information and intelligence.

On the consumer-facing end, Simple are inviting people to ‘replace your bank’, by using their phone to perform a variety of banking and payment services. Finally, another start-up worth watching is SecondMarket, who are offering what they’re terming a ‘reinvented stock market’ and ‘a market controlled by the companies, not Wall Street.’

[image credit baf.cuhk.edu.hk]