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October 24, 2019

What are the most discussed topics at RISE?

PUBLISHED : July 09, 2019 - 19:13

UPDATED : July 09, 2019 - 19:16

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HONG KONG -- In 2030, when you go to a supermarket, what kind of currency will you use to pay? Bitcoin, Libra (Facebook’s cryptocurrency) or some other payment method?

Three panelists were asked this question during a session at RISE, Asia’s largest tech conference, July 9. The topic was “Fintech or techfin? What is exciting investors?”

Mancy Sun, managing director of Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investment, replied with a question: “Would we be taking out our smartphone to pay?”

Vikram Vaidyanathan, managing director of Matrix Partners India, posed another: “Or would I be shopping at a supermarket in 2030?” 

These were just two of the questions participants raised during the tech event, which ran July 9-11 and centered on current and future trends and how to become the next unicorn or discover one.

Hans Tung, managing partner of GGV Capital, which has a record of 50 unicorns in its portfolio out of 300 companies, said the chances are high that future unicorns will come from emerging markets such as India and Latin America -- areas with very young populations that are very familiar with smartphones. 

Speakers, from left, Harry Man, Partner, Matrix Partners, Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners, and Yuan Liu, Managing Director, ZhenFund, on Venture Stage during day one of RISE 2019 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/RISE via Sportsfile



Trade tension between the US and China was one of the most discussed issues at the event, coming up in many sessions.

Some venture capitalists said the tension had not affected the amount of funds raised but might have shifted the direction of the investment.

Harry Man, Partner at Matrix Partners, said the trade war was creating an imaginary wall like China’s Great Firewall. But just as the Great Firewall has created opportunities for local companies like Baidu, Sina and Tencent by legally prohibiting and technically blocking internet services from international tech companies, he said, the trade war will open up new opportunities too.

“Not that many venture capitals put money into semiconductor or chipsets in China because we did believe that Qualcomm or NVDIA are the best in the world and they can be imported into China,” Man said. “But now because of the trade tension, almost every VCs in China are looking into chipset companies.”

Nisa Leung, managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners, pointed out that the number of Chinese venture funds investing in US entities had decreased more than 90 percent in the last 18 months, partly because many US-educated Chinese entrepreneurs were going back to China. “(The drop in the number is) because more and more Chinese entrepreneurs are forced to choose between the US and China,” Leung said.

Some 16,000 participants, including 777 startups and 553 investors, are expected to attend RISE, the organizer said, with 385 speakers set to take part including Uber CTO Thuan Pham and Tinder CEO Elie Seidman.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)

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