HKU makes sense of fintech

The financial industry is now more focused on technological innovation than ever, as fintech is beginning to disrupt the financial world as we know it.

Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the global development of fintech.

For example, the government has recently pushed for the wide adoption of mobile payments in wet markets to effectively reduce contact and potential virus transmissions.

Moves such as these are important steps forward for Hong Kong- a global financial center – to catch up with other cities in the Greater Bay Area, where fintech is integrated into everyday life.

To help unleash Hong Kong’s potential in embracing fintech, the University of Hong Kong has pioneered various research projects in the fintech sector, such as launching the HKU FinTech Indices to track the growth and development of the industry in Hong Kong.

The indices are one of the projects funded by the University of Hong Kong – Standard Chartered Hong Kong 150th Anniversary Community Foundation FinTech Academy, established in April with a fund of HK$60 million from the Standard Chartered Hong Kong 150th Anniversary Community Foundation.

At its plaque unveiling ceremony last week, the academy said it plans to expand the indices’ scope to cover the Greater Bay Area and utilize more fintech innovations to further automate and optimize the process of information collection and index calculation.

With the academy planning to gear up nearly a thousand fintech professionals in the next five years, a new series of massive open online courses were introduced, covering the driving technologies behind fintech, digital currencies and e-payments.

One of these courses will even be geared toward senior high school students to attract more talent.

“The HKU-SCF FinTech Academy will provide a platform to expand HKU’s current line of research platform and cultivate new research and development collaborations between HKU and the banking, finance and technology industry to accelerate the growth of financial technology in Hong Kong and the region,” said HKU president Zhang Xiang.

With the growing trend of mobile payments and digital currencies, many awardees at the HKU-SCF Scholarships ceremony discussed their future aspirations in these fields.

A recipient of the HK$200,000 full scholarship, Rain Lee Sze-choi, developed a passion for programming in secondary school.

Lee, who is now a year one student, was able to gain experience and achieve his ambitions of studying fintech thanks to the opportunities given by his secondary school and the university. He hopes to become a mobile payments expert in the future.

Eva Lai Mei-kwan, a year two student minoring in Japanese and psychology, received a HK$50,000 scholarship.

Curious and passionate about technology and hoping to work in a leadership position in a field she loves, Lai aspires to establish her own technology startup.

These scholarships are another major initiative of the academy, offered to eight deserving students who are pursuing the bachelor of arts and sciences in financial technology at HKU.

But with the development of fintech, especially the mass adoption of mobile payments and digital currencies, comes the concern that it could be a double-edged sword, as it raises many privacy and security issues.

Industry bodies are now, therefore, increasingly paying more attention to the regulations surrounding fintech.

Another partner of HKU, the Tencent Finance Academy (Hong Kong), last week appointed an advisory board made up of leaders and experts from government departments, academic institutions and the fintech industry to support its development in the Greater Bay Area.

Established last year in collaboration with HKU to facilitate research and talent development in the sector, the academy plans to work with the advisory board to assess critical topics such as regulatory technology, supervisory technology, cybersecurity, data privacy and more.

The academy also plans to expand its target from current university students to include recent graduates and returning overseas students interested in the fintech industry.

(This article was published at The Standard on November 17, 2020: Education: HKU makes sense of fintech )

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