Whisper it quietly, but the Hong Kong finance sector could soon become a hotbed for AI development – and AI jobs – as the city’s new virtual banks step up their investment in emerging technologies. Banks have traditionally played second fiddle to tech firms when it comes to AI, but this could be changing.
One of the eight virtual banking licensees, Ping An OneConnect (the tech arm of Ping An Insurance), appears to be a step ahead of the others. Its technologists have already been working on an AI system – namely, a Cantonese version of natural language processing technology (NLP), reports the South China Morning Post. Once developed, the NLP tech could potentially be sold to other firms to help during their loan collection processes.
A high proportion of the tech jobs at other virtual banks – which include consortiums led by Standard Chartered, Bank of China, and Ant Financial Services – are also expected to focus on emerging technologies, including AI, say recruiters.
If you want to escape working on legacy banking-tech systems, the virtual banks are already positioning themselves as career alternatives to the tech giants. Stan Chart’s virtual banking team in Hong Kong is currently “applying learnings” from global AI leaders Google, Twitter and Netflix, according to its career site.
“These new banks are a draw for people from traditional banks as the jobs give them an opportunity to do something out of the mould,” says Warwick Pearmund, an associate director of emerging technologies at Pure Search in Hong Kong. “Ping An may be ahead of the others, but if these banks want to differentiate from traditional banking experiences, they should all be striving from the outset to integrate new technologies that will provide a demonstrably different user experience,” he adds.
Ping An OneConnect also plans to develop big data and blockchain technology that could be used to provide supply chain financing to buyers and sellers of products, Jeffrey Ng, head of fintech solutions, told the SCMP. Virtual banks present a “new set of challenges” for technologists, recruiter Scott Townend told us previously. “Their jobs will no longer be about building, maintaining and improving the tech infrastructure that traditional banks currently have. Their roles will instead reflect the shift toward data management, analytics and cloud service.”
The prospect of working on emerging tech on a daily basis is “already proving attractive to candidates” as virtual banks continue to hire ahead of their expected launches later this year, says Pearmund. “They’re seen as exciting, innovative and progressive places to work and certainly don’t lack interest from candidates,” he adds.
Image credit: real444, Getty
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