HKU: A Pioneer in FinTech Education

“Being a technology entrepreneur, I am particularly pleased to see that HKU and SCF are doubling down on investment into talent development for the future and their commitment to InnoTech in Hong Kong in these trying times of the pandemic. Talent is an essential factor of Innovation and Technology, and to remain sustainably competitive, Hong Kong needs a strong engine and pipeline for talent development. The HKU-SCF FinTech Academy is best positioned to provide a world-class education that combines deep tech knowledge, a sound research foundation and a multidisciplinary curriculum from Technology, Finance and Law. In addition, the participation of industry would ensure practical experience and market relevance for the program. I could not think of a better way to prepare our students and nurture talents for a future in FinTech. The HKU-SCF FinTech Academy will become one of the most sought after platforms for careers in the new era of 5G, digital currencies and new infrastructure.”

Jason Chiu, Founder and CEO, Cherrypicks

With the speedy rise of e-wallets, the use of AI banks as chatbots and other dramatic advances in today’s financial industry, there is a new breed of professionals wanting to capture a significant place in the fast-moving FinTech industry. Over the last few years, FinTech has been driving huge changes across the financial services sector, thanks to the global penetration of smartphones and internet.

One of the leading institutes in Asia for FinTech studies, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has been strengthening its position in the region with a strong research record in various areas of FinTech, including blockchain, cybersecurity, RegTech, big data analytics, and AI-enabled algo-trading.

HKU’s intensive programs have been actively contributing in the development of FinTech talents and research not just within Hong Kong but all across the world. The university’s introduction to FinTech, a massive open online course (MOOC), made it to the top 10 at the 2019 edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions to Online Teaching and Learning. “In just over a year we’ve had 50,000 learners from all over the world. We’re the world’s largest online FinTech course,” says Douglas W. Arner, Kerry Holdings Professor in Law, who co-designed the course at the HKU.

Launched in 2018, it’s a six-week upskilling programme for finance professionals to springboard into the rapidly growing fintech landscape. The participants learn Fintech fundamentals, including money and payment, digital finance and alternative finance. The course also covers the role of regulation and the implication of RegTech in the world of data driven finance. The sheer scale of the course is overwhelming. “50,000 – it’s almost a stadium full of people,” says Janos Barberis, who co-designed the course. “Education at scale is now validated!”

Knowledge sharing with industry and the community is an important extension of HKU. As part of its myriad projects shaping the future of FinTech in Hong Kong, the university introduced a unique FinTech Index Series Project, a first such initiative to benchmark and forecast the state of FinTech in Hong Kong and also offer a framework for the wider Greater Bay Area. Brought out by HKU’s Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, the FinTech Index gives insights into the key players within the industry and how the ratings for business performance more than doubled over the years.

The FinTech ecosystem in Hong Kong is projected to grow rapidly in 2020 and HKU has bolstered its position with strong partnerships with companies like SuperCharger, the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, PwC, the Asia Capital Markets Institute, the Standard Chartered Bank, Thomson Reuters and other partners in financial services, FinTech startups and FinTech sector. Supported by the Standard Chartered Hong Kong 150th Anniversary Community Foundation (SCF), HKU will be offering six scholarships to the students of BASc (FinTech) programme starting from 2020-21 for five consecutive academic years. Each scholar will be awarded an entrance scholarship of HK$50,000. Additional scholarships will be extended to existing students based on academic merit.

With a strong focus on research and development, HKU’s Faculty of Engineering has already established two laboratories focusing on FinTech & Blockchain and Cybersecurity. “We want to provide more resources to develop PhD students and research assistants, who will eventually contribute to the FinTech universe in Hong Kong. So it’s a long, futuristic process to empower talented people. They will be interacting with researchers all over the world,” says Professor TW Lam, head of the Department of Computer Science.

For the last three years, HKU has also been hosting a FinTech day bringing together renowned academics and leading industry players to discuss cutting-edge research at the intersection of science, technology, and entrepreneurship. In its last edition in November 2019, the FinTech Day at HKU also witnessed the launch of the RegTech Book co-authored by Professor Douglas W. Arner. A single reference point to understand the RegTech ecosystem and its impact on the industry, the book includes contributions from various experts in the field. “ Not only have we seen an evolution of Hong Kong’s FinTech ecosystem and of FinTech at HKU but we are seeing an evolution of technology in financial education and research world over. This is an incredibly interesting time to be in this space!” says Arner.

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