Speech at Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting

Annual Work Progress of Cyberport

Cyberport Incubation Programme

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the number of applications for the Cyberport Incubation Programme had decreased from 677 in 2018-2019 to 420 in 2019-2020 (a 38% decrease). He enquired why the number of applications had dropped significantly over the past two years notwithstanding that Cyberport had increased the amount of financial subsidy under the programme since the fourth quarter of 2018. Mr CHAN also pointed out that the annual intakes of the programme in 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 (as at October 2019) were 108 and 88 respectively, meaning that the rate of intake had increased from 16% in 2018-2019 to 21% in 2019-2020. He asked whether Cyberport would relax the application criteria of the programme to encourage applications.

CEO/HKCMCL advised that the number of applications for the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund in 2019-2020 was estimated to be about 800, similar to that of the previous year, while the estimated number of applications under the Cyberport Incubation Programme would slightly decrease from about 700 in 2018-2019 to around 600 in 2019-2020. CEO/HKCMCL explained that the slight decrease in the number of applications was mainly attributed to a keen competition for the Programme over the past years. In view of this, potential applicants might have the impression that getting an application approved was difficult, and they were somewhat less motivated to apply. To enhance its support to start-ups, Cyberport offered guidance and assistance to the unsuccessful applicants to facilitate them to submit new applications for the Programme.

Nurturing technology talent

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that Cyberport would enhance FinTech specific training for in-service financial practitioners to enrich the FinTech talent pool and promote FinTech applications in the traditional financial industries. He said that the trade generally welcomed the initiative, and asked about the differences between the FinTech related training courses organized by Cyberport and local institutions such as the University of Hong Kong School of Professional and Continuing Education. Mr CHAN was also concerned how Cyberport would inform financial practitioners of the training courses, including whether Cyberport would work with the Hong Kong Institute of Bankers to enhance the promotion of these training courses. Noting that Cyberport would establish a new FinTech event space in Wanchai, Mr CHAN queried whether the space was limited as compared with the working space in Cyberport. He requested Cyberport to give an account of its decision to set up the event space in Wanchai.

S for IT explained that Cyberport had been cultivating the whole I&T ecosystem and it mainly focused on highly specialized industries such as Fintech. FinTech was currently a key development area of Cyberport, which hosted the biggest FinTech community in Hong Kong with more than 300 FinTech companies. S for IT said that the Administration would need to think carefully on how this area of work could be presented to primary and junior secondary students. The Administration would also consider strengthening the promotion of popular science education.

Public Payphone Review and Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Public Telephone Kiosks

Removal of public payphones

Mr CHAN Chun-ying queried why the kiosk payphones that would be retained under USO appeared to be concentrated in densely-populated areas (e.g. Yau Tsim Mong District) whereas very few of them were in remote areas (e.g. Islands District). PS(CCI) clarified that the review did not cover emergency helplines located in remote areas, which would be retained for use by the public for emergency purposes.

Mr CHAN Chun-ying asked whether the level of USC was expected to go down after the removal of some of the public payphones, and if so, whether the operators might rebate the saved costs to consumers. PS(CCI) informed members that since the removal works of the payphones would be financed by USC, the level of USC might not drop until the relevant costs were fully covered by the saved operating costs. Even then, the drop in USC might not be noticeable to consumers, while the saving would be shared among all fixed and mobile operators. Besides, it would be the operators’ commercial decision whether to pass on such saving to their customers and, if so, how.

Proposal to revitalize public telephone kiosks

Mr CHAN Chun-ying queried who would finance the telephone kiosk revitalization exercise. Mr YIU Si-wing asked whether public payphones under USO could be allowed to generate income, for instance, by posting advertisements or providing other paid services, in order to avoid an operational deficit. PS(CCI) said that as the pilot run for the revitalization proposals was yet to be implemented, their financial implications, if any, on public payphones under USO were uncertain at this stage. If income could be generated from the payphones, the Administration would explore ways to make use of such income to fund USC