The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) will be jointly setting up a research institute that will develop deep capabilities to support the needs of digital financial services in Asia. The Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF) will provide thought leadership and strengthen synergies between education, research and entrepreneurship in the thriving area of digital finance. It is expected to begin operating by the end of this year.
Hosted at NUS, AIDF will offer a Master’s programme and award scholarships to outstanding students to pursue research at the doctoral level, as well as train post-doctoral fellows in Digital Finance and FinTech. Through its education programme, the AIDF will build the FinTech leadership pipeline for Singapore and the wider region.
AIDF will be led by Professor Duan Jin-Chuan, the Jardine Cycle & Carriage Professor of Finance at the NUS Business School. A steering group, comprising Professor Ho Teck Hua, Senior Deputy President and Provost of NUS, Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at MAS, and thought leaders from the financial and technology industries, will provide guidance on curriculum design and align AIDF’s research direction with strategic priorities in Singapore and the region. The steering group will also evaluate the impact of AIDF’s research and identify opportunities for collaboration and partnerships in Asia and beyond.
The AIDF faculty will bring together deep expertise in Finance, Technology and other disciplines that are critical to integrating financial services with technology. These include:
a. Finance domain: Payments, Credit & Lending, Financial Advisory & Wealth Management, Retail & Corporate banking and Financial Markets
b. Technology domains: Digital Architecture, Digital Platforms, Big Data, Distributed Technology, Tokenisation, Cloud Computing, UX/UI design, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AIDF will pursue foundational and inter-disciplinary research projects covering fundamental digital infrastructure, performance optimisation of business processes, and advanced application development research on cyber, fraud and anti-money laundering challenges. The institute will also develop financial services to meet sustainability and resiliency needs. Potential areas of focus include:
a. Digital Assets and Ledger Technology
b. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
c. Digital Finance Platforms
d. Green Finance Technology
e. Next-Gen Financial Services on 5G networks
The regional research institute will also establish a unique “Fincubator” programme that will promote entrepreneurship and provide the support to drive transformation of ideas and projects by promising students and entrepreneurs into market-ready products and services. Potential areas of focus include:
a. Applied research for commercialisation
b. Incubation of financial solutions to solve unmet digital financial service needs of Asia
c. Industry collaboration to provide comprehensive mentorship to build market-ready solutions
d. Strengthened linkages with investor community to spur research commercialisation
Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, MAS, said, “AIDF will be an important addition to Singapore’s rich and vibrant FinTech ecosystem. Through applied research and active collaboration with industry, AIDF will help to build strong capabilities in digital finance and FinTech. Located in the heart of the fastest-growing digital finance market in the world, the Institute will facilitate the expansion of knowledge and skills among FinTech leaders in the region and support the digitalisation of economies in ASEAN and beyond.”
Professor Low Teck Seng, NRF Chief Executive Officer, said: “AIDF will help build strong FinTech research capabilities in Singapore, and commercialise high-impact research ideas to deliver practical and innovative solutions for the market. It will leverage on NUS’ regional and global networks involving local and foreign universities and research institutes to generate and testbed FinTech solutions for the Asian markets. More importantly, AIDF will also groom next-generation FinTech leaders that will strengthen Singapore’s Smart Nation core.”
Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President, said, “FinTech is making a profound impact on financial services, and will continue to drive the transformation of the financial services industry in Singapore, which is an integral part of Singapore’s ambition to be a Smart Nation. NUS is deeply honoured to partner MAS and NRF to achieve the vision of AIDF – the first of its kind in Singapore and this region, which takes an integrative approach to education, research, innovation and business incubation. NUS’ thought leadership in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, and data science makes us perfectly positioned to address the challenges of the digital economy in Singapore and other parts of the world.”