In a bid to spearhead FinTech education and research, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the National Research Foundation (NRF), and the National University of Singapore (NUS) announced that they will be jointly setting up the Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF) to support the needs of digital financial services in Asia.

In an August 4 statement, MAS, NRF, and NUS said that AIDF will provide thought leadership and strengthen synergies between education, research and entrepreneurship. The institute is expected to open its doors by the end of 2020.

AIDF will be hosted at NUS, and will be led by Professor Duan Jin-Chuan, the Jardine Cycle & Carriage Professor of Finance at the NUS Business School.

The institute will offer a Master’s programme and award scholarships to outstanding students to pursue research at the doctoral level. It will also train post-doctoral fellows in Digital Finance and FinTech.

A steering group, comprising Professor Ho Teck Hua, Senior Deputy President and Provost of NUS, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at MAS, and thought leaders from the financial and technology industries, will have input on AIDF’s curriculum and design.

The group will also align AIDF’s research direction with strategic priorities in Singapore and the region, as well as evaluate the impact of AIDF’s research and seek opportunities for collaboration and partnerships in Asia and beyond.

In terms of research, 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, with potential areas of focus such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and digital assets and ledger technology.

AIDF will also establish a “Fincubator” programme to promote entrepreneurship and provide the support to drive transformation of ideas and projects by promising students and entrepreneurs into market-ready products and services.

“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,” says Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS.

“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,” Menon adds.

Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO at NRF says, “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.”

“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,” adds Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President.