JUL 28, 2023
Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia Collaborate on Tokenization and Payments
In an effort to enhance financial collaboration, Hong Kong and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are expanding their ties and focusing on agreements related to tokenization and payments infrastructure.
On Wednesday, the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) held a bilateral meeting to discuss various initiatives aimed at integrating financial services between the two nations. During the meeting, the central banks explored areas such as financial infrastructure development, open market operations, market connectivity, and sustainable development. Additionally, they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate joint discussions on financial innovation.
HKMA chief executive Eddie Yue emphasized the potential for cooperation in fields like economy, trade, sustainable development, finance, and fintech between the two nations. He expressed optimism about the continued development of the relationship and the prospects it holds for the future.
SAMA governor Ayman Al-Sayari echoed this sentiment, acknowledging the significance of the MoU in fostering stronger ties and assisting them in the future. “HKMA is an important partner for the Saudi Central Bank. Today’s MoU will support our relationship and contribute to the consolidation of efforts in developing the Fintech industry,” he stated.
Tokenization and payment infrastructure
Notably, the authorities of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia also used the opportunity to exchange expertise in tokenization, payment infrastructure, and supervision technologies. This collaboration opens up possibilities for both countries to leverage each other’s strengths in these areas.
Hong Kong has been actively participating in various inter-jurisdictional tokenization initiatives. In June, the Bank of China’s investment bank subsidiary, BOCI, issued a $28 million tokenized security in Hong Kong using the Ethereum blockchain. The project utilized Goldman Sachs’ tokenization protocol GS DAP and featured cash tokens representing claims on the Hong Kong dollar.
Digital assets firm Ripple Labs has also participated in a HKMA pilot program that implicates real estate tokenization.
No crypto discussion
However, the joint announcement did not explicitly mention any joint efforts related to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. It is worth noting that Hong Kong recently allowed retail investors to trade crypto, but Saudi Arabia has not shown any specific plans to promote cryptocurrencies in recent years. In 2019, the Saudi Central Bank issued a warning that Bitcoin is not recognized by legal entities within the country.
Recent months have seen ever greater collaboration between international central banks and regulators relative to digital assets. Last month Japan’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) joined forces with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on its Project Guardian initiative to further explore the potential of digital assets.
In May, the central banks of Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates announced a collaboration to work on cryptocurrency regulations and financial technology development. In the same month, MAS partnered with New York’s Federal Reserve Bank on an initiative that examined the use of central bank digital currency (CBDC) for wholesale cross-border payments.
As the financial collaboration between Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia strengthens and other such international partnerships continue to unfold, the focus on tokenization and payment infrastructure and digital assets more broadly signifies a step forward in embracing these innovative financial technologies.