Category: Finance


The Wan Chai connection: The Washington-accused drug lords, gun runners and dictators’ financiers tied to one Hong Kong district

By Joshua BerlingerCNN Business, December 11, 2020

(CNN Business)The Hong Kong neighborhood of Wan Chai may be home to the most eclectic and densest concentration of US-sanctioned enterprises anywhere on the planet. In less space than a square mile, you’ve got offices tied to: an alleged financier for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group; an individual accused of helping Iran acquire millions of dollars of military equipment in violation of US sanctions; a man accused of helping Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro plunder his country’s resources; and a company that allegedly opened a bank in North Korea in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also an office tied to a powerful Southeast Asian militia and a casino mogul accused of trafficking drugs, wildlife and even humans. Walk these streets on the northern part of Hong Kong Island by day, however, and you’ll likely see well-dressed professionals out to lunch. At night, it’s twenty-somethings getting drunk in rowdy bars — not drug lords slinging kilos of methamphetamine or gun runners trying to sell crates of AK-47s. That’s because all five offices appear to be front companies. Front companies are not inherently illegal. They are legitimate corporations without significant assets or active business operations that can be used to conceal illegal or unsavory transactions, evade taxes and generally avoid scrutiny. Essentially, they are near-empty offices in tall towers seldom, if ever, visited by their owners. But the five companies all appear to exist for one reason: to evade the watchful eye of American law enforcement. Four of the five alleged front companies in Wan Chai have, since 2015, been added to the US Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List” — a massive document that names all entities sanctioned by the US government. People or companies put on the list are generally barred from doing business with Americans, conducting transactions in US dollars and using the US financial system. Allegations against the fifth company, the one tied to the North Korean bank, were raised in 2017 by a UN panel that monitors the efficacy and enforcement of sanctions on Pyongyang. Why exactly the five are in Wan Chai — and so close together — isn’t clear. It might be as simple as the lure of a good location and cheap rent. But they’re not alone. The Center for Advanced Defense Studies’ sanctions explorer, a tool created by a Washington-based non-governmental organization that scans the Treasury Department’s sanctions list, turns up at least 13 entries in Wan Chai and more than 120 in all of Hong Kong.

They’ve all likely flocked to the city for the same reasons that many legitimate businesses do. Hong Kong is fully integrated into the global financial system. It’s incredibly easy — too easy, some critics argue — to form a company and staff it with well-educated local employees. And, for decades, Hong Kong has wholeheartedly embraced limited economic regulation and corporate oversight. Free market, non-interventionist policies have helped supercharge the city’s economy. But financial crime experts say they have historically allowed shady businesses to pour money into the city, regardless of how it was obtained. Hong Kong’s Companies Registry, which is part of the city’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, told CNN that US sanctions are “unilateral” and have no force in local law. The Companies Registry declined to make the head of the agency, Ada Chung, available for an interview. Hong Kong has passed laws in recent years aimed at curtailing malicious corporate activity, but plugging the systemic gaps that allow illicit front companies to thrive would risk choking Hong Kong’s legitimate economy, angering the city’s powerful tycoons and, in some cases, furthering American geopolitical aims at a time of intense rivalry between Washington and Beijing. It’s a balancing act the city has performed for years.

The foundation of a fortune

It was about 70 years ago when a 27-year-old Wan Chai native named Henry Fok figured out that Hong Kong’s leaders weren’t willing to stifle business to preserve the interests of governments on the other side of the planet. When Mao Zedong and the People’s Republic of China joined the Korean War on behalf of North Korea in 1950, the United States and its allies responded by instituting an economic embargo on Beijing. In May 1951, the United Nations recommended its members enact their own trade restrictions against China. Fok saw opportunity. China would be willing to pay a steeper price for everything from medicine to war materiel. All he had to do was ship the goods to them — a task for which he was well-placed. Though Fok was born poor, he had learned English in the British colony. That meant he could read local gazette auction listings and buy cheap military surplus goods left over from World War II. His first purchase was a tugboat, he told the Wall Street Journal in 1997. He had also helped his mother run a small shipping business, meaning he knew that industry. So, under the cover of night, Fok began shipping everything from asphalt to iron plates, plastic hoses, steel, gasoline and rubber tires to mainland China via Macao, which at the time was not strictly enforcing the embargo. “Whatever the mainland needed we could get it for them,” Fok wrote in his memoir, though he denied the longstanding rumors that he was a gun runner. “It was quite dangerous. But I didn’t care, if there was money to make then it deserved a try.” 

Interview with Henry Fok Ying-tung. 10 April 2003 (Photo by Ricky Chung/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

The Americans were not pleased. Washington accused its ally, Britain, of not enforcing the embargo strictly enough in its colony. The territory’s British rulers maintained they were trying, but argued against pressing too hard because the colony’s economy was built on regional trade, especially with China. Cutting that link could have spelled ruin for Hong Kong, especially given the economic pressures brought by an influx of refugees from mainland China after the Chinese Communist Party took power in 1949. So Fok and a handful of others continued with little resistance from the British, and the war in Korea raged on. The United Nations was not even 10 years old by the time the fighting stopped in 1953. The Korean War had been one of its first opportunities to use economic leverage instead of violence to achieve its ends, and even then there were people like Fok who figured out how to game the system to make money. By the time Fok died in 2006, he was a billionaire tycoon and one of Hong Kong’s most powerful political brokers. He later maintained violating sanctions wasn’t what made him rich. In fact, he said the whole operation was so stressful that by the end of the war he only weighed 103 pounds.But Fok had earned enough capital to invest in other ventures. He would go on to become the first Hong Kong businessman to buy apartment blocks and resell the uncompleted flats individually, a novel idea that made him millions. Apartments in the city are often still sold this way todayFok also backed casino magnate Stanley Ho’s bid for Macao’s gaming monopoly in the early 1960s, which accounted for most of Fok’s fortune at the time of his death. When Fok tried to cash out of the gambling industry in the early 2000s, he was believed to be seeking between $769 million and $898 million for his shares in Ho’s company, according to Forbes. He was worth about $2 billion in 2001, according to the financial magazine, and died five years later.In the end, the measures meant to sap China’s ability to wage war had inadvertently paved the way for Fok’s fortune. His business empire was built on money made by ignoring and exploiting US and UN attempts to wield tools of economic warfare. Fok also showed that Hong Kong authorities were willing to look the other way when it came to businesses entangled in geopolitical conflicts, as long as it was good for the economy.

John Cowperthwaite’s experiment

The 1950s kicked off a half century of tremendous economic growth in Hong Kong, thanks in large part to those refugees from mainland China. Most arrived with nothing and needed jobs. Many turned out to be entrepreneurs, and the colonial government wanted to help them set up shop, according to Steve Tsang, the director of SOAS University of London’s China Institute. “So they basically introduced the most user-friendly system in the world for companies to [get] registered and just get on with business,” he said. That meant getting rid of red tape so people could easily start their own companies. This “user-friendly” system was just one cog in the colonial government’s unabashedly non-interventionist economic plan. British officials pursued a host of laissez-faire policies and let exchange rates be determined by market forces, at a time when much of the world was tying rates to the US dollar and gold. All that made Hong Kong something of an outlier globally and laid the foundation for the city’s “free market, wheeler-dealer kind of reputation,” said Catherine Schenk, a professor of economics and history at Oxford University. No one embodied this reputation more than John Cowperthwaite, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary from 1961 to 1971. Cowperthwaite was so opposed to government involvement in the economy that he often refused to collect simple economic statistics, arguing that any data would end up being used as an excuse to intervene. 

Sir John Cowperthwaite, the Financial Secretary, speaking at the IPCCIOS III Conference (The Third Triennial International Management Conference of the Indo-Pacific Committee of the International Council for Scientific Management). The theme of the Conference is “Asia – the Challenge to Management”. 27SEP68 (Photo by C. Y. Yu/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

Famous conservative economists like Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate and adviser to President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, were fascinated by Cowperthwaite and his experiment in unbridled capitalism. Free marketeers credit Cowperthwaite for the colony’s impressive economic growth in the second half of the 20th century.His tenure coincided with a historic boom in the number of firms operating in the city.In 1960, there were 3,732 companies registered in Hong Kong, according to the Hong Kong Companies Registry. A decade later, there were 15,848. In that time frame, GDP more than tripled.

When mainland China became a hub for manufacturing the early 1980s, Hong Kong became a gateway to that industry, and a financial center. The colony did not require people to be forthright about where their money originated, nor did it tax overseas earnings. And it remained very easy to set up a company. Legitimate business owners, however, weren’t the only ones who took note. So too did the increasingly wealthy and powerful Southeast Asian heroin cartel bosses who needed a place to launder their growing fortunes.

Washing money in Hong Kong

Fok may have pioneered sanctions evasion in Hong Kong. But the modern blueprint for the operations of the five front companies in Wan Chai was written in the 1980s by those heroin dealers, who used the colony’s lax financial system to clean tens of millions of dollars worth of drug money. The sheer amount of greenbacks being moved out of Hong Kong from 1982 to 1984 was massive — hundreds of millions of dollars — and it paralleled the rise in Southeast Asian heroin’s market share in the United States, according to US intelligence. And the money kept pouring in. 

In 1991, Hong Kong officially sent nearly $4 billion in cash back to the United States, according Robert Koppe, an official from the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN).That number just didn’t make sense, and Koppe told a Senate subcommittee on Asian organized crime in 1992 he couldn’t explain it. Koppe said that FinCEN had a few theories on where the money was coming from; laundered drug money seemed the most likely. Concerns about a similar currency surplus had been raised about eight years earlier by former President Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime, and it concluded drug trafficking was a logical explanation. There was no way to know for sure. At the time, Hong Kong did not have currency transaction reporting requirements, meaning businesses and individuals didn’t have to explain where large amounts of money were coming from. And nearly $50 billion in US dollars were being exchanged each businesses day in Hong Kong, according to Koppe. That was part of the problem itself, per Koppe. With so much cash unaccounted for in a major financial hub, Hong Kong was, as Koppe put it, “an excellent target area for the laundering of large amounts of US currency. “So law enforcement officials reasoned that if Hong Kong was sending back millions of dollars’ worth of drug money to the United States, it meant that Southeast Asia’s heroin empires were successfully laundering their fortunes through the global financial system via Hong Kong. They often used front companies to do it.

A 1994 report by the US Drug Enforcement Administration explained that traffickers would set up front companies in Hong Kong in order to conceal the movement of funds, or add layers of complexity and anonymity to their schemes. These heroin empires essentially provided a business model for shadowy operations, like the five front companies in Wan Chai. They showed them how to abuse Hong Kong’s lax system to hide money made illegally overseas.

The unassuming offices of Wan Chai

The Panama Papers in 2016 blew the lid off the murky world of international offshore finance — and showed Hong Kong was the most active place on the planet for the creation of shell companies, alongside traditional tax havens such as Switzerland, Cyprus and the US state of Delaware. The 11 million-plus document dump, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed how wealthy and powerful people allegedly employed Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider, to set up shell or front companies on their behalf. Mossack Fonseca denied any wrongdoing after the story broke, but the leaks helped explain how the world’s 1% can use front or shell companies to move money internationally. Such firms could conceal the true identity of a company’s owner, mask a business’ assets or monopolistic practices, or even avoid sanctions. Tycoons also use them to obfuscate their business practices.

A 2001 study found that eight major conglomerates controlled a quarter of all corporations in East Asia’s nine most advanced economies at the time, including Hong Kong. The papers caused reputational damage to the city, exposing how open its financial system and corporate services sector are to abuse.

As of the end of June 2020, Hong Kong boasted more than 7,000 licensed trust and corporate service providers. Many bear little resemblance to global firms like Mossack Fonseca. They often operate out of poorly lit offices in unassuming mid-rise buildings. Some have strange names like Cheerful Best Company Services, the business at the office tied to the North Korean bank, or Sky Charm Secretarial Services Limited, one of the three corporate service providers at the address that was supposed to house a front company accused of violating US sanctions on Iran.

“The government’s promise to uphold the principle of ‘keeping intervention into the way in which the market operates to a minimum’ is a classic see-no-evil approach to financial regulation, designed to attract offshore business, dirty and clean, with few questions asked.”

In fact, four of the five front companies that were supposed to be in Wan Chai appeared, at some point, to house corporate service providers, CNN Business found after visiting them. None of those were surprising finds. Corporate service providers are prevalent throughout Hong Kong and most offshore financial centers because they make it easy to set up and maintain a company from abroad. The fifth company, the address tied to the alleged Southeast Asian drug trafficker, was actually home to another company, Shuen Wai holdings, which was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in 2008 amid allegations that the office was a key part of the financial network used by the a Burmese militia to launder profits from drug sales. The man who answered the door when CNN visited for a different investigation in 2018 said the company was previously involved in the jade trade but now works in funeral services.

Experts say the issue is that company registration and corporate secretarial services lack proper oversight. Fewer regulations has meant more business and a more attractive offshore center, but also more front companies like those in Wan Chai hiding in the shadows. That’s part of the reason why the Tax Justice Network, a non-governmental organization that monitors and studies tax havens around the world, ranks Hong Kong fourth on its Financial Secrecy Index. “The government’s promise to uphold the principle of ‘keeping intervention into the way in which the market operates to a minimum’ is a classic see-no-evil approach to financial regulation, designed to attract offshore business, dirty and clean, with few questions asked,” the index said. The Hong Kong government hasn’t sat idly by. It has tried to find a legislative fix that doesn’t involve onerous regulation, but to date, most of its efforts have focused on the banking sector. 

Stringent due diligence and know-your-customer requirements are now the norm at banks because “the cost of not observing the rules and regulations [on] money laundering is very high,” said Simon Lee, the co-director of the International Business and Chinese Enterprise Program at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). In 2018, Hong Kong’s government passed laws aimed at clamping down on illicit company formation. The new legislation requires corporate service providers to be licensed and registered, and all companies and service providers must now keep on hand information regarding beneficial ownership, or the actual people behind any company.However, the efficacy of these new rules remains to be seen. The Financial Action Task Force, a global anti-money laundering watchdog, said in its 2019 evaluation of Hong Kong that the territory had “a strong legal and institutional framework” for combating financial crime, but noted that corporate service providers were not well supervised “until very recently” and more time was needed to gauge just how effective the new laws are.

The future 

Today, American sanctions in Hong Kong face a new major test.On August 7, the US Treasury Department sanctioned 11 people — including Carrie Lam, the leader of Hong Kong — for their role in enforcing a new national security law imposed by Beijing which effectively stamps out government dissent and freedom of speech. Supporters of the legislation said it was needed to protect the city after months of political unrest in 2019, which at times turned violent. Critics say the measure is a brazen attempt by China to take greater control of Hong Kong’s affairs. Hong Kong was for years seen as a stable, rules-based business mecca with a world-class judiciary to settle disputes. That veneer of respectability has been tarnished, in large part by the national security law, which gives Beijing far more influence over Hong Kong’s legal system. Washington believes the law was abhorrent enough to warrant putting Lam on an American blacklist alongside North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, whose country is accused of running gulags that house more than 100,000 political prisoners; Min Aung Hlaing, the Burmese general accused of orchestrating a genocide in Myanmar’s Rakhine State; and Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who has allegedly deployed chemical weapons against his own people.

Though Lam called the sanctions “nonsense” in an interview with Chinese state media and joked that the US government got her address wrong, they have left her hamstrung. Lam told the Hong Kong International Business Channel in late November that since they were put in place, she has not been able to use banking services in Hong Kong.”I’m using cash every day,” she said. “I have piles of cash at home. The government is paying me cash for my salary, because I don’t have a bank account.” She clarified in another interview that only part of her salary is being paid in cash — she is leaving the rest in the Hong Kong Treasury.

HONG KONG, CHINA – NOVEMBER 25: Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, speaks to the press during a news conference after she delivered the annual policy address at the Legislative Council building on November 25, 2020, in Hong Kong, China. Lam delivers her economic policy address Wednesday after weeks of delay, mass resignation from pro-democracy democrats lawmakers and new steps to boost economic links with China. (Photo by Miguel Candela/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Lam was the target of an American tool of statecraft and an economic pressure campaign. Other governments, however, are not required to follow Washington’s lead on sanctions, even if the measures target apolitical crimes like drug dealing. A spokesperson for Hong Kong’s Companies Registry, which oversees the city’s companies, said as much when asked about the five front companies in Wan Chai. “While we do not comment on individual cases, you will appreciate that unilateral sanctions have no force in international law and do not create any legal obligations for other jurisdictions to follow,” the spokesperson said.The official reaction toward the sanctions against Lam have struck a similar but more combative tone. Hong Kong’s government denounced them as a“deplorable move [that] is no less than state-sanctioned doxxing.” With Hong Kong moving closer into Beijing’s orbit and China’s overall relations with Washington particularly fraught, there isn’t much chance the city will be inclined to help the United States enforce sanctions — especially when Carrie Lam can’t even open a bank account because of them. That is good news for the five Wan Chai front companies, and others like them. As long as Hong Kong’s leader remains sanctioned, it’s unlikely authorities here would be willing to cooperate with Washington to plug the gaps that make it so easy set up a front company in Wan Chai.

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Reference link: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/12/10/business/hong-kong-front-companies-intl-hnk-dst/index.html

#Brexit – How does it affect the UK Film Industry ?- Conjecture and Opinions

Well, after reading the article by Stephen Follows copied in its entirety below, I’m certainly not in agreement and have been prompted to provide my own views on this historic and groundbreaking referendum held on 23rd June 2016 in the UK now commonly called the “Brexit” vote.

Britain is well-prepared and will triumph gloriously as the panic subsides. I am most probably going to be critiqued on my statements here and wildly criticised for being contrarian or called worse? Let me start by stating that the film industry generally and globally is going through a dynamic disruptive metamorphosis; changes are inevitable as strong growth in media continues, and as new business relationships are consummated in a rapidly changing economic landscape. The models have changed. Funding productions and distributing content is no longer utilising film funding mechanics that were developed and put in place decades ago, and before the Internet changed everything.

L2L Brexit Opportunity

Countries and their governments throughout the world are adopting film incentives processes building on local strengths as they have researched and found how important attracting filmmaking in their jurisdictions is to other industry sectors within their borders. Film incentives emanated from Hollywood and were initiated by “Runaway Production“. In the late 1990’s Hollywood film industry guilds, backed by US studios and media companies retained a company that produced the Monitor Report to conduct an investigation into phenomenon. The global success of production incentives and the migration of feature film production from the U.S.A. to the world spurred further in-depth research and data collection.

 

The outcome of the Brexit vote in the UK has rippled rapidly through the financial services industry, banks and global markets and will continue for some time yet; all are experiencing very high levels of volatility and this has sent shock waves around the world.

Brexit Pound Drops

Record drops in Pound Sterling currency trading

 

The British Pound has plummeted to record lows with the media networks harping on in sound bites, excited sensationalism about trading drops not seen in 45 years of market analytics et al. Well, what most people seemingly don’t realise or understand about
film industry dynamics is that the film necessarily thrives during times of uncertainty. This can be seen throughout history, across countries and around the world. Do some deep research into what I am writing here and you will likely be surprised to find correlations that support my words! The British film industry has evolved and will continue to capture global market shares in the media industry, and I see this time as stimulating greater growth, as opposed to what the pundits and commentators are bleating along with those who see things differently.

Brexit Britain On Film BFI

Britain On Film Our Lives Our Stories www.bfi.org.uk

Here’s some background worth reciting to put current views in context. “The UK was not a signatory to the Treaty of Rome which created the EEC in 1957. The country subsequently applied to join the organization in 1963 and again in 1967, but both applications were vetoed by the then President of FranceCharles de Gaulle, ostensibly because “a number of aspects of Britain’s economy, from working practices to agriculture had made Britain incompatible with Europe and that Britain harbored a “deep-seated hostility” to any pan-European project. Once de Gaulle had relinquished the French presidency, the UK made a third application for membership, which was successful. On 1 January 1973 the United Kingdom joined the EEC, then often referred to in the UK as the “Common Market”. This was done under the Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath. The opposition Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, contested the October 1974 general election with a commitment to renegotiate Britain’s terms of membership of the EEC and then hold a referendum on whether to remain in the EEC on the new terms.”

Brexit British Film Soldiers On - Barry Lyndon 1975 Stanley Kubrick

A scene from “Barry Lyndon” 1975, directed by Stanley Kubrick

Now more than four decades on in 2016 the people of the UK have voted and the majority have chosen to leave the fold.

The EU and EEA (formerly known as EEC) have been weighed, measured and left wanting.

Brexit Wins Overall

British “Brexit” Referendum Final Results

The globalists,  corporate interests, banks and politicians that are are all screaming and moaning at the top of their lungs that the UK has absconded are behaving like chicks hatching out of cracked and spoiled boiled eggs. Many of those who have been gambling on this huge European casino economy are locked into the Euro currency; Britain is not.

In retrospect keeping the British Pound was a very smart move and whilst obviously it will be spinning fast and furiously on the roulette wheel of global currency markets for a while, the wheel will begin to slow and when it settles, the strength and growth prospects inherent in the British economy will begin to shine. Now that the UK has left the table, after having been previously drawn to the allure of bright lights and European delights at a time in British history when things looked a damn sight more appealing across the channel than the dire conditions in England that occurred in the aftermath of World War II.Brexit BFI Facebook on Billy Wilder

Britain was enticed down the old golden gilt garden path and as things became boggy and more recently progressively stagnant a modern economic quagmire of dissent and distrust emerged and flowed in the under currents of populations and opinions. The British people have decided to take their remaining chips, cash in at the borders and leave the building. If you’ve ever been into a casino, you will have noticed that they like to keep the light constant, day and night, to trick people and punters into staying on and gambling for longer; the EU bureaucratic empire operates as aqueously within its vast corridors of power, ever flowing, ever changing and most haven’t even noticed where the leakages are occurring.

Brexit The Movie is a full length British documentary film that provides some very interesting factual details, and well worth watching more than once.

The United Kingdom now stands to benefit immensely.

 

Building on new trends and timing with markets

Evidence suggests that the trends of US and EU companies pursuing strategic partnerships in Asia is increasing in 2016.

Brexit Pole - Interest Rates

Fiscal imbalances and floundering interest rates

Such trends are not exclusive to strategic decisions being made by corporations in the entertainment, media, and Hollywood talent agencies. The British Film Institute research provides great insights into how UK Film industry has been positioning for a more dynamic growth into new markets. A renewed focus on private equity and Family Office funding coupled with recent increased volatility in financial markets has spurred a swathe of mergers and acquisitions activity across the divide between East and West. Britain stands to benefit in this changing dynamic global shift we are in the midst of witnessing.

OTT and Streaming revenues growth accelerators

Activity and accelerated knowledge growth amongst Asian countries in the OTT and Premium OTT services sectors is driving increased competition for market share in four principle market angles:

  • Market enablers: the underlying market conditions for premium OTT offerings (e.g. population, broadband, devices, penetration, payment gateways)
  • OTT building blocks: the assets, capabilities, technologies and services required to develop and launch subscription OTT offerings (e.g. government regulation, censorship, languages, cultural specialties)
  • Consumer demand: awareness, interest, willingness to pay, serviceability to pay, payment options
  • The competitive environment between OTT services, pay-tv offerings (Netflix, iflix, et al)

Britain is poised strategically and the smart money and smart ideas are disruptive. I see Brexit as a smart move, contrary to the inference by general mass media reports that most of the voters were low income classes lacking in understanding. Smart companies are banking on future technologies that will change the way we do business around the world. Furthermore, Britain can now create new relationships more efficiently and operate without needing EU approvals, that are more complex and time consuming to get approved across the channel. Providing scalability as well as flexibility to explore expansion opportunities and build business relationships in ASEAN and India at an exciting time when these Asian regions are experiencing extraordinary changes is an opportunity for the taking.

Brexit BFI Into Film

BFI Into Film education programme

The British Film Industry stands to benefit immensely as it is well supported within the country by the BFI coupled with educational programmes such as Into Film and these can quickly and easily become interesting areas of growth for British film professionals showing their wares to countries with less established film industry mechanisms. Growth in the global media industry is vibrant and expanding. As Asia creates new forums, established British technology and experience in teaching and learning programs can be exported and provide assistance and services for Startups in countries experiencing strong growth. Focusing on new business avenues and matching these efficiently with cost effectively implementation of entertainment and media growth strategies is the key to sustainability; remaining adaptable to future changes is vital for survival.

Innovations and Cultural Specifics

Innovations in technology and rapid growth utilising enterprise software to enhance business efficiency coupled to growing mobile penetration is prevalent across ASEAN.

Brexit Mobile penetration demographics SE Asia

Mobile Communications Demographics in South East Asia

With large populations utilizing high-speed data services and ever-increasing access to mobile communications coupled with the proliferation of marketing and advertising censorship controls are the subject of Governments and populations wishing to monitor and filter content delivered over the Internet.

India’s super angel investors are predominantly focused on the media technology and innovation spaces and are keenly interested in developing strategic partnerships with growth stories that focus on expansion in Asia.

The UK film industry is not only going to benefit from what I see as being relatively short-term weakness in the British Pound currency, Britain will thrive as the English people build upon their long history and experiences of seeking out and discovering new lands, building and expanding. With Brexit Britain has begun a new era of British conquest but not of conquer; this time the prospects are for the country to prosper on new relationships with new partners, rather than empire building as it was during the days of the East India Company “formed to pursue trade with the East Indies but ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and Qing China.” The company rose to account for half of the world’s trade, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The company also ruled the beginnings of the British Empire in India. This time Britain will be bringing AI, nano-technology and British Startups Technology to the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read my conjecture and opinions here. I look forward with positivism and optimism as the world begins to dance rather than march to a new tune.

This article is created and written by James With, spurred after reading the article by Stephen Follows dated June 26, 2016 copied here below.

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The full article by Stephen Follows is reprinted here for ease and efficiency with respect to views expressed by many film industry heavyweights and further juxtaposition.

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?Last Thursday, 52% of the UK population voted for the UK to leave the European Union (EU).  I am going to avoid the political side of this conversation as it’s been covered well elsewhere.  I will also avoid sharing my own opinion on the matter as there are no shortage of people shouting off on one side or another.However, I thought I can add to the conversation by looking at the numbers for how the British and European film industries interact and how Brexit will affect the UK film industry.

How will Brexit affect the UK film industry?

It’s worth noting that a large part of the whole Brexit debate was taken up with discussing unknowns.  Neither side has a magic crystal ball and so it’s impossible to say for certain exactly what will happen in a post-EU UK.  However, some outcomes are almost automatic, in that if the UK stops paying into the EU then it can expect to stop receiving money out of the EU.  So, here is a rundown of the negative effects of Brexit to the UK film industry…

  1. MEDIA logoAn end to MEDIA / Creative Europe funding (certain).  Between 2007-13, the MEDIA scheme provided over €100 million towards various aspects of the UK film industry. The loss of this money is the biggest, clearest effect of Brexit and so I’ve addressed it in the section below.
  2. In the short-term, British / European co-productions will be harder (very likely). Official co-productions allow international film producers to work together to create a film which can gain state protections and tax benefits from multiple countries at the same time. In the immediate future, co-productions between British and European countries will become harder, due to the fall in the value of the Pound and the growing uncertainty.
  3. In the long-term, British / European co-productions may need new legislation (unclear).  Official co-productions are only possible between countries which have signed a treaty defining co-production rules. The UK currently has active treaties with Australia, Canada, China, India, Israel, Jamaica, Morocco, New Zealand, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, South Africa and the EU.  The EU treaty is called the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production and was signed in October 1992 in Strasbourg.  This European treaty is not exclusively for just EU members as it refers to its signatories as “member States and the other States Parties to the European Cultural Convention”.  The UK signed the original treaty as a member of the EU so conceivably it would need to sign up again as a “European non-member State”.  Interestingly, the UK already has a separate co-production agreement with France, signed in 1994, so British / French co-productions may not be affected by Brexit in the same way co-productions with other EU member states are.
  4. British content will be much less attractive to European broadcasters (almost certain). Some European countries have quotas on the amount of European content their exhibitors and broadcasters must show.  For example, the majority (i.e. minimum of 51%) of French entertainment broadcast transmission time must be taken up with programs of European origin.  Not only did this increase demand for native UK films and television shows but it also made UK / US co-productions more attractive.  For example, ‘The Night Manager’ was a £30 million co-production between the BBC and AMC, which also qualified as an EU production.  In a post-Brexit world, it is very unlikely that such products will be classed as ‘European’ and will therefore lose a large part of their value to European countries with such quotas.
  5. Increased complexities for international cast and crew (possible but unclear).  One of the features of a unified Europe is the free movement of people, goods and services.  New visa requirements and work permits could affect both British people filming in Europe and European people filming in the UK.  That said, the issue is a little more complicated than just ‘in or out’ of the EU. This passport and border controls are covered not by the EU but instead by the Schengen Agreement, and only 22 of the EU’s 28 member states are currently signed up (also, the UK and Ireland have certain opt-outs),  In addition, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are members of the Schengen Area but not of the EU.  The basics of the free movement of people and services is also not simply an EU issue, but was instead established in the Treaty of Rome. So it’s not clear what would happen post-Brexit as new agreements will need to be reached in order to keep the free movement protections the film industry has enjoyed until now.
  6. Fewer UK films will be distributed in Europe (certain). EU funding has supported the export of UK film to Europe to a massive degree. In fact, between 2007-13, almost €45 million was spent to bring UK films to European cinema audiences.  Details of which films were supported follow in the next section.
  7. Blue is the warmest colourFewer international films will be distributed in the UK (certain, although the extent is unknown).  Between 2007-13, UK-based businesses received over €20 million in EU funding to support the release of European films in the UK.  In addition, if Brexit continues to cause a weak Pound then it becomes more expensive for UK distributors to acquire new content.  However, this will affect all UK distributors equally, so may only reduce the amount UK distributors can pay upfront (known as the Minumum Guarantee, or MG) rather than prevent distribution entirely.
  8. UK independent cinemas will lose income.  (certain, although the extent is unknown).  56 UK independent cinemas receive funding from the EU as part of the Europa Cinema scheme, which supports cinemas which commit an average of 67% of their programming to European films.  Between 2007-13, this averaged out to over €103,000 per cinema.
  9. The negative effect of uncertainty (very likely). The film industry is highly fickle and responds negatively towards uncertainty.  This is partly due to the large amounts of money at stake and the desire to reduce risks wherever possible.  Right now no-one is sure what effect Brexit will have on the UK film industry, and so it may seem a safer bet to wait this period of change out before investing in UK film productions.
  10. Loss of influence on European rules affecting UK content (certain but effects unknown). By leaving the EU, the UK will forfeit its right to influence EU policy towards film and television content.  This will most acutely be felt in the discussions around the proposed Single Digital Market, which aims to force distributors to treat the EU as one territory, rather than distributing films country-by-country as happens today.

Despite these negative effects, Brexit could be positive for the UK film industry in the following ways…

  1. several-pound-bills-new-british-20-pounds-moneyIt becomes cheaper to shoot in the UK (uncertain).  If the Pound continues to lose value (as it has since the Brexit voted was announced) then the UK becomes ever-cheaper for foreign productions to set up shop in the UK. This will have the biggest effect on Hollywood studios, who spend vast sums of money and whose green-screen epics can be shot almost anywhere in the world.   Between 2006-15, UK / USA studios films spent £7.7 billion in the UK, accounting for 68% of the money spent on UK films.
  2. The UK is free to change its tax rules (certain).  The current Film Tax Relief (FTR) scheme is very generous and offers producers a refund worth around a fifth of the money they spend on UK films in the UK.  As a member of the EU, the UK is bound by rules on State Aid and does not have a free hand to change government incentives and subsidies without EU approval. When the FTR first came in, it gave points for various elements being British, such as the cast, crew, languages used, etc.  However, EU rules have forced the UK to widen the criteria to favour all Europeans equally.  This means that it is now possible to have a film that qualifies as fully “Brtish” with an all-Italian crew, based on a Spanish story, told in German. Leaving the EU will remove these restrictions on UK film tax policy. This freedom will mostly benefit the unseen civil servants who draw up the actual tax laws, but this increased flexibility means that in theory our film incentives can be changed more often and be better tailored to the needs of the UK film industry.
  3. Avoid proposed new European rules on release patterns (certain freedom from a possible event). As discussed above, the Single Digital Market could mean that films need to be released in Europe as one territory all at once.  It’s not certain how the new rules will eventually be written, but if we’re out of the EU then we’re certainly not going to be part of it.  This will still affect British films exported to Europe but not films released in the UK.
  4. The UK can spend that saved money directly on UK film (extremely unclear).  In theory, the UK can use the money saved by not paying into the EU to directly replace the money and support that was lost by the lack of MEDIA funding.  It remains unclear if the government wishes to do this.

How much has the MEDIA budget benefitted the UK film industry?

MEDIA currently provides money to the UK film sector for training, development, co-productions, festivals and theatrical distribution.  Over a seven year period (2007-13), the EU provided over €100,000,000 towards various aspects of UK film industry.  This breaks down as follows…

  • MEDIA - Brexit affect the UK film industry€44,561,008 – Awards to European distributors to release UK films
  • €10,478,771 – Investment in UK TV broadcasting
  • €8,898,821 – Distribution of European films in the UK
  • €7,830,252 – Development – UK Slate funding
  • €6,939,604 – Development – UK Single projects
  • €5,810,965 – UK cinemas part of the Europa network
  • €4,910,314 – UK-based training
  • €2,975,703 – UK VoD platforms
  • €2,775,444 – UK-based film courses and schools
  • €2,013,688 – Development – UK Interactive works
  • €890,530 – Grants to UK sales agents who represent non-UK European films
  • €85,0718 – UK pilot release programs
  • €695,500 – European Day-and-Date pilots
  • €539,766 – i2i Audiovisual (plugging finance gaps in UK / European co-productions)
  • €100,171,084 – Total

As mentioned above, UK films have received a huge amount of EU funding for their releases around Europe.  These include…

  • Kings Speech in FrenchThe Iron Lady – €1,531,922 – 31 European territories
  • Slumdog Millionaire – €1,339,104 – 24 European territories
  • Quartet – €1,339,009 – 23 European territories
  • Looking For Eric – €1,297,031 – 26 European territories
  • Tamara Drewe – €1,239,843 – 22 European territories
  • The King’s Speech – €1,025,717 – 26 European territories
  • The Last Legion – €1,025,551 – 3 European territories
  • The Duchess – €954,012 – 19 European territories
  • Shame – €951,814 – 27 European territories
  • Another Year – €914,330 – 21 European territories
  • I Give It a Year – €892,867 – 29 European territories
  • Streetdance 3D – €891,644 – 17 European territories
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – €882,124 – 27 European territories
  • The Secret of Moonacre – €814,964 – 5 European territories
  • Song for Marion – €787,987 – 15 European territories
  • Happy-Go-Lucky – €750,173 – 24 European territories
  • Hysteria – €748,066 – 25 European territories
  • Fish Tank – €737,813 – 29 European territories
  • Nowhere Boy – €708,871 – 8 European territories
  • The Angels’ Share – €699,286 – 27 European territories
  • A further €25,028,880 awarded to other UK films

Finally, it’s worth mentioning some of the European films that have reached UK cinema audiences in part because of EU funding. These include A Prophet, The Great Beauty, Gomorrah, I Am Love, Persepolis, Love is All You Need, The Class, Amour, Potiche, Waltz with Bashir, Heartbreaker, Of Gods and Men, Blue is the Warmest Colour, Pina, Two Days In Paris, The Counterfeiters, The White Ribbon, Melancholia, Antichrist and Molière.

What is the UK film industry’s opinion on Brexit?

It’s fair to say that the vast majority of people working in the UK film industry are firmly against the UK leaving the EU.  UK arts pressure group the Creative Industries Federation say that 96% of its members supported the Remain campaign and 84% said that EU membership was important to the future of their organisation.   A poll by Media Business Insight found that 66% of people working in the UK film industry felt that Brexit would have a negative impact on the sector.  A further 18.5% were uncertain on the outcome of Brexit, with only 11.5% believing that Brexit would be positive for the UK’s film industry.

So why are so many UK film professionals against Brexit?  This could be for a number of reasons…

  • Political values. The film industry is traditional a fairly liberal-minded industry and the liberal cause is largely pro-EU.
  • Geographical location.  The majority of UK film jobs are located in London and London was a hotbed of anti-Brexit sentiment (60% of London voters opted to Remain).
  • Age. The film industry has much lower age profile than the UK population, and polls have shown how the majority of those under 50 supported Remain while a majority of those over 50 supported Leave.
  • Fear of uncertainty.  The UK film industry is in a period of stable growth, thanks in large part to a stable government approach to film incentives.  Uncertainties in the future could scare off investors and studios from making investments in UK films.
  • The majority of predictable outcomes to the UK film industry are negative.  The list at the top of this article shows how the vast majority of expected Brexit outcomes are negative for UK film.

Here is a summary of press coverage on the issue…

  • Brexit game of ThronesScreen Daily says that the UK film and TV sectors are in “limbo” and that “the two sectors had recently expressed strong sentiment in favour of remaining in the European Union, which is the major trade partner of the UK and which provides millions of pounds in subsidies to the UK market as well as a number of frameworks for coproduction. That structure is now in serious doubt“.
  • Variety collected views from a number of major voices in UK film, summing them up by saying “British voters’ stunning decision to turn their backs on the European Union has left many of the country’s leading TV and film players reeling“.
  • The Guardian summed up the situation by saying that there would be “less cash, fewer movies” and also that “we could witness a 70s-style British film meltdown”.
  • The Hollywood Reporter led with “U.K. Producers Oppose Brexit”, pointing out that “James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, veteran David Puttnam, Matthew Vaughn, The King’s Speech producer Iain Canning, Slumdog Millionaire’s Christian Colson and Aardman Animations are among those who outlined their reasons for why staying in the EU is the right call for those who want “to support our current, thriving creative industries.”“.
  • Broadcast magazine noted that shares in ITV dropped 19% within a day of the vote being announced, and the Sky share price also fell 8%.  Further drops were felt by eOne and Vivendi.
  • The Verge discussed the possible effect of Brexit on ‘Game of Thrones’, saying “US productions might feel the effect, too. Much of HBO’s Game of Thrones is filmed in Northern Ireland, for instance, partly supported by the European Regional Development Fund. HBO, however, says it doesn’t anticipate any financial impact on GoT, since the network took no money from the ERDF for the last few seasons, according to Entertainment Weekly“.
  • And the Radio Times pointed out one aspect of Brexit too many experts have overlooked by noting “The shock Brexit result will have massive ramifications – not least the fact that we may see less of beautiful French actress Clémence Poésy on TV“.

A number of top UK film voices have shared their views and I could fill an entire article with them.  However, for the sake of brevity, here are five which seem to sum up the mood…

  • Harvey WeisteinHarvey Weinstein said “I’m shocked… These guys who voted, voted out of fear. It’s a huge mistake… It could be very costly in the movie and TV industry in terms of content branding. European branding is very important. It’s a big deal for these young British filmmakers”.
  • Michael Ryan, Chairman of the Independent Film & Television Alliancesaid The decision to exit the European Union is a major blow to the UK film and TV industry. Producing films and television programs is a very expensive and very risky business and certainty about the rules affecting the business is a must. This decision has just blown up our foundation — as of today, we no longer know how our relationships with co-producers, financiers and distributors will work, whether new taxes will be dropped on our activities in the rest of Europe or how production financing is going to be raised without any input from European funding agencies. The UK creative sector has been a strong and vibrant contributor to the economy — this is likely to be devastating for us”.
  • Danny Perkinshead of Studiocanal UK said “Short term it’s bad news for the currency and terrible news for film acquisitions, which are normally done in dollars or euros. UK companies will suffer in the short term“.
  • Rebecca O’Brien of Sixteen Films said “It has blown us out of the water. We are very dependent on our relations with Europe. All of our films for the last 20 or 25 years have been co-productions with Europe. It (Brexit) doesn’t mean they will stop immediately but it means that trade, and access and all those things are much more difficult. It just means we have to re-invent the wheel again“.
  • Jeremy Thomas of the Recorded Picture Company quoted Charles Bukowski by saying that “the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence“.  Mr Thomas added “For the film industry, it is a disaster“.

So what now?

BrexitSo many of the effects of Brexit are unknown.  Right now, the only thing that has happened is that a non-binding referendum was marginally won by the pro-Brexit movement.  There’s no doubt that the majority of the UK film industry hopes that Brexit doesn’t happen.  Failing that, the film industry is likely to seek the following outcomes from the government…

  • A deal to retain co-production advantages with EU countries.  Most likely this means ensuring that the UK remains signed up to European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production.
  • An agreement to classify UK content as “European” in relation to production and distribution quotas.  This is a harder task than the co-production deal, although it should be noted that Switzerland has already achieved this for their content.
  • Replacement funding be provided for current MEDIA-funded activities.  A major claim of the Leave campaign was that the UK would save £350 million a week by leaving the EU.  It turns out that once you take into account the UK’s rebate the real saving is far lower, but even taking that into account, the money saved by leaving the EU could be used to replace the funding currently provided by MEDIA.
  • Action to be taken swiftly and confidently.  A protracted and messy exit will create a large amount of uncertainty and stifle investment in UK film.

Epilogue

Sorry if you were expecting to be able to read my final article in my series on film locations today.  I have had a number of people ask me about how Brexit will affect the film industry so I bumped the film locations article to next week.  Stay tuned…

 

JW Blog Thailand Production Incentives

#‎Thailand‬’s government has approved a ‪#‎Film‬ ‪#‎Production‬ ‪#‎rebate‬ for international ‪#‎productions‬ that spend at least $1.5m in the Kingdom. Thailand has finally secured government approval for production incentives in the form of a 15-20% cash rebate on qualifying local spend.

Expected to kick in from January 2017, the incentive offers a 15% rebate on international productions that spend at least $1.5m in the country, with a yet-to-be determined upper limit to prevent a single big-budget production from emptying the pot. An additional 3% is available for films that use key Thai cast or crew when shooting in the country and a further 2% for films that have particular value in promoting Thailand.

Reference: http://www.screendaily.com/festivals/cannes/thailand-launches-20-production-incentive/5103910.article

20160514 Thailand Launches 20 percent production rebate - ScreenDaily

Discussions for Thailand to introduce a film production incentive have been heard for over two decades and local film industry professionals see this as a great positive for the film industry in Thailand and ASEAN as a whole. With the more business opportunities and activities focused on trading partnership across the AEC, Thailand’s production hub status will be further strengthened by the implementation of this vital entertainment industry support at a time when Asian appetites for entrepreneurship, fintech, startup technology and OTT are heating up.

When one compares jurisdictions the Thailand film production industry incentives set to take effect in 2017 will weigh in heavily on other countries offering similar production incentives to attract filmmakers, not only in ASEAN, but also throughout the world. This is largely because the costs of production are significantly lower in Thailand than other countries and with rebates being offered in the range of 15%-20% being available, Thailand will rank high on the list of destinations for producers.

EP Financial Solutions

EP Financial Solutions

The development of movie production incentives stems from the perceived economic benefits of filmmaking and television production in the US. In 2010 revenues from television production in the US were estimated at $30.8 billion[1] while revenues from movie and video production in the US were estimated at $29.7 billion in the same year.[2]

As the TV and film industries around the world grew through the 1990s, so did concern over runaway productionsTV shows and films that are intended for a US audience but are filmed in other countries in order to reduce production costs. The issue of runaway productions gained further traction after Canada adopted a movie production incentive program in 1997.

In the 21st century Asia has emerged as a leading growth area for film financing with Asia, China and India increasingly being used by Hollywood producers and major studios as a necessary part of their global strategies.

Building on new trends and timing with markets

Evidence suggests that the trends of US and EU companies pursuing strategic partnerships in Asia is increasing in 2016. Such trends are not exclusive to strategic decisions being made by corporations in the entertainment, media, and Hollywood talent agencies. A renewed focus on private equity and Family Office funding coupled with recent increased volatility in financial markets has spurred a swathe of mergers and acquisitions activity across the divide between East and West.

Innovations and Cultural Specifics

Innovations in technology and rapid growth in the utilisation of enterprise software to enhance business efficiency are coupled to growing mobile penetration prevalent across ASEAN. With large populations utilising high-speed data services and ever-increasing access to mobile communications, the proliferation of marketing and advertising censorship controls under scrutiny, Governments and populations wishing to monitor and filter content delivered over the Internet are all key indicators to watch.

Mobile penetration demographics SE Asia - South Korea

India’s super angel investors are predominantly focused on the media technology and innovation spaces and are keenly interested in developing strategic partnerships with growth stories that focus on expansion in Asia.

For more information on filming in Thailand information is available from the Thailand Film Office. 
Telephone: + 66 2612 4149 +66 2219 4010 Ext. 634 or 463
Email: film@thailandfilmoffice.org URL: Thailandfilmoffice.org

About the author: James With
First published on Monday, 16th May 2016

Inglourious Bar Studs

Inglourious Bar Studs

Alternative Investment Finance for Film and Entertainment Projects

There’s no need to rely on scarce and periodic Government grants and/or applying and waiting an indeterminate time for State film commissions to assess and possibly if you’re in luck approving your project in order to funds these days. The opportunities and scope for securing money, services and marketing resources are immense. Film and Entertainment Financing has a huge new arena to tap into; crowdfunding is exploding and now that the SEC in the United States of America has passed regulations for equity crowdfunding the playing field just got a whole lot wider.


Inglourious Bar Studs

Inglourious Bar Studs

Inglourious Bar Studs” (http://www.sittinganddrinking.com) is the first film project that I am financing partially from crowdfunding and it’s been a great learning experience. There’s a lot to know and the alternative finance sphere is not a spectre to be shunned. I have created an online paper called The INglourious News Daily that provides everyone with a wide selection of relevant source materials and articles to widen your horizons. You can get a variety of cutting edge insights and stay up to date on the emerging and evolving funding sources available today.

According to Raghavendra Rau, the Research Director of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and the Sir Evelyn de Rothschild Professor of Finance at the Cambridge Judge Business School: “The Asia Pacific region includes many of the most populous and fastest growing developing countries in the world – China, India and Indonesia and many more. The rapid uptake of mobile technologies and the permeation of social media is enabling these countries to leapfrog traditional banking infrastructure, which suggests that the potential growth of innovative alternative finance markets in the Asia-Pacific may be higher than other regions.”

Alternative finance encompasses innovative financial instruments and distributive channels that have emerged outside of the traditional financial system. The alternative finance industry is experiencing rapid growth in the Asia-Pacific region. The University of Cambridge, Tsinghua University & the University of Sydney have joined forces to launch the 2015 Asia-Pacific Alternative Finance Benchmarking Survey supported by KPMG, CME Group Foundation, the ACCA and 20 leading industry and academic research partners. The study will assess the activities of equity- and reward-based crowdfunding, peer-to-peer consumer and business lending (i.e. Marketplace Lending) and invoice trading, which are directly connecting lenders to borrowers, raising venture capital for start-ups, funding the creative industries and creating new ways for individuals and institutions to control how and to whom money is distributed, lent and invested.

Inglourious Bar Studs

Inglourious Bar Studs

University of Sydney Business School Dean and Professor Greg Whitwell said: “An interesting trend in alternative finance in Australia and emerging East Asian countries is the emergence of social-cause based alternative financing activities. There is also an urgent policy need to study the Asia Pacific alternative finance industry, which is unregulated in most jurisdictions. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific such as Australia are debating regulations, yet they are doing so in the absence of reliable data on the scale and type of such financing activities.’

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance at Cambridge Judge Business School, the Tsinghua University, Graduate School of Shenzhen and the University of Sydney Business School are jointly launching the 2015 Asia-Pacific Alternative Finance Benchmarking Survey. This survey will be the first-ever comprehensive study of crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and other forms of alternative finance across the Asia-Pacific region – including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The survey is supported by KPMGCME Group Foundation, the ACCA and 20 leading alternative finance industry and academic research partners across the Asia-Pacific and beyond, including the Crowdfunding Institute of Australia, LendIt, Crowdfund China Society, Hong Kong Crowdfunding Association, Wangdaizhijia, New Zealand Crowdfunding Society, Japan Crowdfunding Council, Crowdfund Asia Association, Korean FinTech Forum, ShengZhen Crowdfunding Association, Change Fusion Thailand, World Crowdfunding Conference, Crowdsourcing Week, Crowdfund Vibe, FinTech Hong Kong, the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), Nagoya University, the University of Amsterdam, Ahmedabad University with CrowdfundInsider as the industry media partner.

There really is so much more to discuss and write about on this topic and positive thoughts on this subject are welcome and appreciated.

Best wishes,

James With
Chairman
TRI-US Entertainment
“Partnering With the World to Create a Positive Difference”