Hong Kong's Hidden Gems #1 - Hong Kong Monetary Authority Information Centre

COVID-19 has certainly taken much lustre out of Hong Kong's star on the world stage.  Travelers into the city still require a 3-day compulsory hotel quarantine at the time of writing, leaving many holding off on a trip to the Asian hub.  Shame!

In view of this, I have decided to use this blog to occasionally showcase Hong Kong to the world.  Feel free to use these posts as a guide to plan your future travel here.  Even if you don't have plans to come, my hope is the introduction of these sights will offer unique perspectives on the buzzing city.  

To start us off, we have a boutique but interesting information centre in Hong Kong's Central Bank.  The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) Information Centre is one of a kind.  It is located in Two IFC, arguably the most iconic skyscrapper in town.  That said, it is certainly off the beaten path and not very well known to even the locals. Visitors information can be found here.

This gallery can probably be explored within a cozy 30 to 75 minutes, depending on your desire to learn and engage with various interactive displays.  Upon entry, you can see a historical wall detailing significant financial events in Hong Kong since its colonial years from 1842 to present times.  There are of course, many fun facts to be learnt.  Some interesting points for me include: 
  • The Hong Kong Dollar (HKD) was first pegged to the GBP at a rate of 16 to 1 back in 1935
  • The HKD then switched to the USD in 1972 but the rate was only set to 7.8 to 1 in 1983.  These figures are still largely in use today
  • The HKMA had utilized its abundant reserves over the years to keep the pegged exchange rate within a small, accepted range.  In fact, it is happening at this very moment.  The US Fed has been aggressively raising interest rates since the turn of the year, thereby making the HKD less attractive for keepsake. Our MA in turn, needs to buy HKD to prop up the demand (and hence the FX) for the HKD
The centre also provides ample coverage on Hong Kong's currency and how it has evolved over the years.  Be sure to check out how our paper bills are manufactured. Many state-of-the-art counterfeit measures are built in using sophisticated technology from the Fintech industry.  My personal favourite display is an art piece however.  It is a collage of Hong Kong's skyline, built from actual coins that went out of circulation.  Can you guess how many coins were used and how much these coins are worth?  The answers can be found near the display.  Spoiler alert: the total value is worth over $60K HKD (7,600 USD) of coins!  Sorry, but I had to geek-out for a moment.  Across from the collage, there is also another splendid display made largely of shredded retired paper bills for your enjoyment.

Besides providing plenty of financial information about the city, the exhibition with its "height advantage," also boasts a beautiful view of Hong Kong.   On the 55th floor of the second tallest building in the city, the gallery offers a unique vantage point you just can't get from the peak or the ferry.  The image below is one of many scenic photos taken from various lookouts in the venue.

All in all, the HKMA Information Centre is  a hidden gem.  It is a no-miss if you are interested in learning about Hong Kong's financial prowess, our currency's uniqueness, and the role the central bank plays in safeguarding  the finances of its citizens.  The centre also doubles as a observation deck for parts of the harbour and surrounding areas.  There is also a souvenir counter if you want to bring a piece of our financial history back with you.  Finally, if none of this matters, there is always the IFC mall for ample shopping and dining on the bottom floors of the building. All in all, I would highly recommend this place if you would like to find a detour from the usual shopping, tourist experience, or simply, the daily routine. 



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