Hong Kong’s PCCW Solutions, owned by tycoon Li Ka-Shing’s son Richard Li, has won the tender to develop a centralised digital platform for the Mandatory Provident Fund, marking a key milestone for the HK$1 trillion (US$128.2 billion) public retirement scheme.
Singapore’s iFAST Corporation is a subcontractor for the project.
The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA), supervisor of the MPF industry, announced the winning bidder late last week. It opened the tender in December 2019 as part of plans to automate administration of Hong Kong’s largest retirement scheme for its 4.3 million members.
The contract is for a two-year implementation period and a seven-year operation/maintenance period. It may be extended for up to three years.
According to the MPFA, the digital platform can be built as early as end-2022 and become fully operational in 2025 if the development progresses as scheduled.
The appointment “marks a major step forward in the development of this pioneering project aiming to standardise, streamline and automate the MPF scheme administration processes, thereby creating room for fee reduction and a predominantly paperless experience in the MPF system”, the MPFA says in a statement on January 29.
The industry supervisor says it has formed a wholly-owned subsidiary, the eMPF Platform Company, to coordinate preparatory work and operate the platform.
PCCW Solutions, which primarily provides digital transformation, cloud computing and artificial intelligence services, has not yet commented publicly, and spokespersons for the company did not immediately respond to questions from Asia Asset Management (AAM).
The MPFA statement did not name iFAST, but in a statement on January 30, the financial technology firm says it will be the prime subcontractor in transferring members’ data from MPF trustees to the platform.
People familiar with the matter told AAM last year that the tender attracted four bids in total, from Hong Kong, Indian, Chinese and Canadian technology and financial services companies.
The MPFA says legislation governing the MPF will need to be amended in order to designate the eMPF for administration processes and delineate the roles and responsibilities of the government, the MPFA and MPF trustees. It expects the amendments to be introduced to the city’s Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year.
The eMPF is an important initiative for the industry to improve Hong Kong’s retirement system, according to David Ashton, chief executive officer of Principal Trust Company (Asia), an MPF manager.
“Principal welcomes and supports any programme that helps the public to enjoy a better retirement. We look forward to partnering with PCCW, the government and all industry stakeholders to ensure the initiative is a success,” Ashton tells AAM.
Launched in 2000, the MPF scheme had HK$1.021 trillion of total assets as of September 2020.