A new research institute will be set up by the end of the year to drive education, research and entrepreneurship in digital finance in the region.

The institute, called the Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF), is jointly developed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the three organisations announced on Tuesday (August 4).

It will be hosted at NUS and offer a master’s programme, as well as award scholarships to students to pursue further research at the doctoral level. It will also train post-doctoral fellows in the areas of digital finance and fintech.

This will build the leadership pipeline in fintech for Singapore and the wider region, the partners said in a joint press statement.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon 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.”

The institute’s faculty will bring together deep expertise in areas such as payments, credit and lending, financial advisory and wealth management and retail and corporate banking. It will also encompass digital architecture, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

The faculty will be led by the Jardine Cycle & Carriage Professor of Finance Duan Jin-Chuan from NUS Business School.

There will also be a steering group comprising NUS provost and senior deputy president Ho Teck Hua, MAS chief fintech officer Sopnendu Mohanty and thought leaders from the financial and technology industries. They will provide guidance on designing the curriculum and align the research direction with strategic priorities here and in the region.

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.

NUS president Tan Eng Chye added: “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.”

Besides research, the institute will also have an incubator programme for entrepreneurs and to turn projects into market-ready products and services. There could also be industry collaboration to provide mentorship.

NRF chief executive Low Teck Seng said: “AIDF will help… 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.”


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