On May 20, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and WeBank Co. Ltd (WeBank) announced they are establishing the HKUST-WeBank Joint Laboratory to explore cutting-edge technologies and nurture talent. This collaboration also serves as a high-level collaborative innovation platform for enterprises, universities and research institutes and to promote knowledge transfer under the GBA Development Framework.
As China’s first private and digital-only bank, this joint lab is not only WeBank’s the first research collaboration with a local university in Hong Kong, it is also the first joint banking lab project between Guangdong and Hong Kong. According to the agreement, a scientific committee will be set up to identify the most relevant projects to both parties, covering areas including machine learning, blockchain, AI operations and data mining for in-depth research ventures.
Officiating guests today at the ceremony included Prof. Wei SHYY, HKUST President; Prof. Lionel NI, Provost of HKUST; Mr. David KU, Chairman and CEO of WeBank; Mr. LI Nanqing, President of WeBank; Prof. Tim CHENG, Dean of Engineering at HKUST and Head of HKUST-WeBank Joint Laboratory; Mr. YANG Qiang, Chief AI Officer of WeBank and Chair Professor for Computer Science and Engineering at HKUST. The agreement was signed by Prof. Nancy IP, Vice-President for Research and Development of HKUST, and Mr. Henry MA, Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer of WeBank
WeBank Chairman and CEO David Ku is honored to partner with HKUST, “The joint lab is a hallmark of the collaboration between HKUST and WeBank. Being open-minded, open-source and collaborative, the lab shall be rooted in the GBA and grasp its development opportunity as well as embrace the world. The lab visions an inclusive collaboration with all types of potential partners in driving Fintech underlying algorithms and technological research. We hope to see more use cases and innovative business models that tackle the existing pain points of SMEs and retail customers.”
HKUST President Prof. Wei Shyy also expressed his delight. “In this era of disruptive innovation, science, technology, business creativity, along with a human-centric approach are vital elements for advancing socio-economic development. Hong Kong, being a progressive and in fact world-leading city, is ideal for such a collaborative platform. HKUST has started collaboration with WeBank last year on public opinion analysis and anti-money laundering to enhance banks’ performances and their abilities in handling crisis. I hope with HKUST’s research capability and WeBank’s experience in applying innovative technologies in mainland’s banking industry, we will be able to develop new banking technologies for transfer into products with social impact as our cooperation deepens,” he said.
Some possible research topics of the joint lab include: how to protect data privacy amid sharing of resources and how to establish blockchain consortium or apply new technologies such as the collaborative business model. The lab will seek to increase banks’ risk management capability by monitoring bank transactions and assisting officers in risk analysis and system maintenance work through machine learning and data mining. It will also seek to enhance the banking industry’s development through Fintech and other cutting-edge technologies. Nine research proposals have been summited to the joint lab so far in the fields of blockchain, risk management and AI.
About WeBank Co. Ltd
WeBank was initiated by Tencent and officially launched on December 16, 2014, becoming the first digital-only bank in China that promotes inclusive finance. To date, WeBank has launched a personal micro-loan product (“Weilidai”) and an SME loan product (“Weiyedai”), among many other purely online products, with over 100 million retail customers and over 500 thousand SME customers as of 2018. WeBank has also deployed China’s first distributed core banking system, capable of handling high-volume, high-frequency transactions. It has applied for 234 tech patents in total. WeBank strongly embraces the ‘ABCD’ technologies (A.I., Blockchain, Cloud Computing, Big Data) as its strategic focuses and is an active leader in their related researches and applications in the financial sector.
About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (www.ust.hk) is a world-class research university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science. HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. HKUST attained the highest proportion of internationally excellent research work in the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee, and is ranked as the world’s best young university in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2018. Its graduates were ranked 16th worldwide and top in Greater China in Global University Employability Survey 2018.