Sometimes we get asked why we launch in Hong Kong. Well, besides the fact that this is our place of life and work, Hong Kong has some unique qualities which non-Hongkongers might not know about.
It is now the year 2015 – that is 18 years after Hong Kong has been returned by Great Britain to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Many people
know believe that Hong Kong was leased for 99 years from China and therefore it was returned to the PRC on July 1st 1997. What we all know as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China (SAR) comprises of 3 main areas: Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. In fact, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon became part of the British Empire after China had lost the first and second opium war which led to the perpetuate cession of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon by the British. In 1898 the colonial government of Hong Kong noticed that they need more land and therefore they leased the New Territories from China for 99 years. Henceforth, only the lease contract of the New Territories did expire in 1997 and Great Britain did not have to hand Hong Kong Island and Kowloon back to China. Yet, the British government recognized the importance of Hong Kong in its entirety and therefore, worked on a contract with China to hand back all of Hong Kong which was sealed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was registered with the United Nations. Thus, Hong Kong SAR today is still very different from the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong has the rule of (common) law, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right to demonstrate, and most other features of an open and democratic society. Ah right, and we drive on the left side of the road 🙂
Long story short: this handover and its agreement was put into place to ensure Hong Kong remains one of the most competitive markets in the world. Hong Kong’s laissez-faire approach to business, low tax rates, open labor market, considerably easy immigration policies and the entrepreneural spirit of its people, make it the perfect launch base for swapit. Ever since Hong Kong was transformed from an unimportant rock in the South China Sea into a global trade powerhouse, import/export and trading companies have done great business here that shaped mind of the Hong Kong people to be absolute world leaders in that field.
That very spirit of buying and selling goods is crucial to the idea behind swapit and we believe it helps creating an active trading platform that entirely lives on mobile.
Headquarter to world leading companies
Hong Kong’s unique geographical location (close to China), economic position and the rule of law have led to major global companies to have their headquarters in Hong Kong, like: HSBC, ESPRIT, Cheung Kong Holdings (owns TOM, CK Life, ETSA, Powercor, CitiPower, Northern Gas UK, Wellington Electricity Distr. Net.), Hutchison (owns shipping ports across Europe, Americas, Asia, ME, Africa; 3 mobile carrier in Asia & Europe; Watsons – world’s largest drug store chain), Jardine Matheson (Mandarin Oriental, Dairy Farm), Crocodile Garments, Alibaba and thousands more. According to InvestHK’s latest brochure Hong Kong’s rankings are:
Hong Kong’s Global Rankings
- 1st World’s Freest Economy
- Fraser Institute Economic Freedom of the World: 2013 Annual Report
- 1st Index of Economic Freedom
- The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation, 2013
- 1st Globalisation Index
- Economist Intelligence Unit & Ernst & Young, 2013
- 1st The Global Opportunity Index: Attracting Foreign Investment
It is no surprise that Alibaba – the Chinese ecommerce leader who is now challenging Amazon globally, just announced it will launch a HKD $1bln (USD $130M) foundation to invest into Hong Kong entrepreneurs. Alibaba said in their statement:
“Through the Foundation, Hong Kong entrepreneurs will have access to financial capital, technical assistance and training so they can realize their dreams and visions. Alibaba hopes that the resources provided by the Foundation will help unleash Hong Kong’s potential for innovation and entrepreneurship”
In fact, Hong Kong is full of exciting startups that chose Hong Kong as their launch pad for their product.
At the same time Uber – the US startup that disrupts the taxi industry world-wide and is valued at US$41 bln – has launched its very own new service Uber Cargo exclusively in Hong Kong. Of all places, also Uber chose Hong Kong to launch their new service and show the world how a new business model applied to an existing industry & market can work in an efficient way that makes customers happy and provide a superior service.
Hong Kong is the right place to launch a new product or startup that wants to either succeed locally, launch into China or it comes from China and wants to launch into the rest of the world.
Hong Kong’s Market of 7 Million Consumers
Hong Kong is our launch base for swapit because it makes sense. The location is right, people’s mindset is ready, smartphone penetration is high, and most importantly the local market with its 7 million inhabitants is large enough for swapit to gain traction and even be profitable.
Have you signed up for the invite-only swapit beta yet? If not, request your invite here: http://swapit.la
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