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National University of Signapore offers new Masters and PhD programmes in fintech

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The National University of Singapore (NUS) will offer two new graduate programmes in digital financial technology (FinTech) in the new academic year, to help build a robust ecosystem of high-quality research talent and capabilities to support the fast-growing financial industry in Singapore.

The new Masters and PhD programmes are under the Asian Institute of Digital Finance (AIDF) at NUS, a university-level institute jointly founded by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) and NUS. The PhD programme, in particular, is Singapore’s first and only doctoral programme in FinTech.

In these uncertain times, more financial organisations than ever are leveraging FinTech to grow and improve their financial products, and to enable smooth and more innovative interaction with their customers.

“In this golden age of technology, banks are becoming more efficient as more operational processes are being automated by AI, and decision making are assisted by sophisticated data analytics. Such advancement is rapidly reshaping the financial services sector. At the same time, financial institutions are facing rapid market changes and intensified global competition. In-demand skillsets such as competencies in digital technologies and innovation, which our new Masters and PhD programmes are designed to impart, will give our graduates a significant competitive advantage to thrive in the industry,” shared Associate Professor Huang Ke-Wei, Director of Academic Programmes at AIDF, who is also from the NUS School of Computing (NUS Computing).

“AIDF is designed to be Asia’s premium research and academic institute to advance deep technology research and develop next-generation leaders in digital finance and FinTech. Its unique curriculum is structured to meet the industry’s technology skill requirements and integrated with a focus on financial inclusion, digital economy technology stack, and sustainability in high-growth markets. This key factor will foster high-quality talent development for an equitable and inclusive digital economy,” said Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS and Co-Chair of AIDF Steering Committee.

Mr Beh Kian Teik, NRF Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said, “Digital talent is essential for Singapore to realise its ambition of being a trusted digital innovation hub. As such, the RIE-funded AIDF provides a good platform for the post-graduates – both Masters of Science and PhD candidates – to be trained in FinTech to serve the growing needs of the financial industry. This in turn ensures a pipeline of local talent that will strengthen Singapore’s Smart Nation core.”

Masters of Science in Digital Financial Technology

The 1.5-year Masters of Science in Digital Financial Technology is a collaborative programme by AIDF, NUS Computing and NUS Business School.

With an intake of 40 to 50 students, the Masters programme is designed primarily for those who plan to work in financial institutions or FinTech firms as AI software developers, data scientists, FinTech security specialists, or financial quantitative analysts.

The programme also offers elective modules that cover deep computing and finance expertise to help prepare graduates for future challenges in FinTech.

Students will undertake a two-semester long capstone project which is designed to help them pick up in-depth skills and knowledge in a focused area – such as artificial intelligence, machine learning or data analytics – via experiential learning. Students can choose either an academic research project, or a FinTech internship to gain industry work experience that supports the acquisition of practical work skills and self-directed learning.

Please visit here for more information on the Masters programme.

PhD in Digital Financial Technology

The PhD in Digital Financial Technology programme will be hosted jointly by the NUS Graduate School and AIDF. The programme will admit talented students with computing, finance, or STEM background, and it aims to train graduates who can excel with a strong technical foundation and independent research ability for driving financial innovations in academia as well as in FinTech industries.

As this is currently the only FinTech PhD programme in Singapore, graduates of this programme will be uniquely suited to work in the FinTech industry especially in fields where research projects require advanced quantitative techniques. Graduates may also become trainers in educational institutions to groom qualified FinTech manpower for Singapore and beyond.

In the unique design of the PhD programme, each student is guided by his/her own academic committee consisting of three faculty members from at least two different faculties. This academic committee will advise the student on coursework and research matters.

Students can take classes based on a personalised curriculum on the recommendations of his or her academic committee. They can take classes directly related to their research projects in areas such as AI or machine learning in finance, smart credit analytics, blockchain innovations, FinTech infrastructure, economics of FinTech innovations, or advanced time series forecasting.

Please visit here for more information on the PhD programme.

Applications to the new Masters and PhD programmes are now open and interested students should submit their applications before 15 April 2021.

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Source: https://www.finextra.com/pressarticle/86925/national-university-of-signapore-offers-new-masters-and-phd-programmes-in-fintech?utm_medium=rssfinextra&utm_source=finextrafeed

Payments

In a Tumultuous Year for Auto Insurance, Customers Seek Better Value

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Latest customer survey findings on auto insurance trends during the last year show largely similar after-effects in most world regions. In the US, a JD Power 2021 Insurance Shopping Study revealed that the pandemic caused a 55% decrease in number of miles driven, inducing auto insurance customers to shop around for more personalized and cheaper policies. The Confused.com Car Insurance Price Index in association with Willis Towers Watson revealed that comprehensive car insurance premiums in UK fell by 14% since the first quarter of 2020, the biggest annual drop since 2014.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions, which aggregates annual market data about driving behaviors, auto insurance shopping, underwriting and claims to help insurance carriers better understand shifting landscapes, in its 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance Trends Report, noted that auto insurance shopping data trends stayed turbulent throughout 2020. In certain African economies, insurance premiums were reported to have dropped to six-year lows as vehicles sat idle with drivers staying at home following Covid-19 movement restrictions.

The pandemic resulted in mid-term and renewal auto insurance shopping going for a rollercoaster ride. As various states began to issue shutdown orders, shopping declined initially and later rebounded when stimulus checks reached bank accounts of customers. As cities began to gradually reopen, shopping continued to take an upward trend, but dropped again during periods of civil and social unrest during summer and severe weather events. For those whose finances were adversely affected by the pandemic, a 6% rise in shopping activity was reported.

A notable insight from the J.D. Power survey was that while auto insurance customers shopped around more fervently than ever before, incumbents lead with higher gains. While insurtechs like Metromile and Root grew on the back of their data-driven policy pricing, incumbents wrested an even bigger market share. The past year alone witnessed a 3% year-over-year increase in auto insurance customer migration to the five biggest insurers, as incumbents dealt with customers’ pandemic distress as well as insurtechs did. The marketplace was found to be increasingly differentiated more so by price, underscoring the need for carriers to bring innovative customer solutions.

Liberty Mutual, for instance, offered blanket premium refunds and reductions to customers who drove less during the pandemic, where insurtechs like Metromile publicized their pay-per-mile offerings for discounted pricing. State Farm’s usage-based insurance offering, Drive Safe & Save, let customers earn discounts up to 50%, just as Metromile customers saved 47% on average via telematics capabilities.

On the claims side, empty roadways engendered dangerous driving with a significant increase in speeding first observed in mid-March 2020 that stayed 10% higher than 2019 figures for the rest of 2020. Driving under the influence (DUI) violations rose among younger drivers, with a near 50% increase in recorded violations in March-April. Collision claims reduced, but severity rose to a 3.7% year-over-year increase in 2020.

The pandemic saw insurance companies quickly adapting and implementing virtual car insurance claims, setting the path to contactless claims handling. Auto insurance claims dropped by nearly a quarter since the pandemic. With fewer claims, carriers were able to refine their customer experience. The results are still coming in, but the feedback has been positive. Customers who said they “definitely will” renew with their current insurer were higher: 76% during the pandemic versus 72% before.

While digital claims are becoming more mainstream, results show a large number of customers still seek quality customer service without adopting digital tools or want to supplement digital tools with personal interaction. Customers who did not use digital claims tools also experienced a similar level of customer satisfaction. When it comes to claims handling expectations, there seems to be a healthy appetite for both digital tools with artificial intelligence and good old fashioned guidance from real persons. Auto insurance customers want flexible options on how they communicate with their insurers.

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Source: https://dailyfintech.com/2021/05/13/in-a-tumultuous-year-for-auto-insurance-customers-seek-better-value/

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Hong Kong based Digital Bank livi Is Offering New BNPL Product with a Mastercard Virtual Debit Card

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livi bank, which is notably one of Hong Kong’s eight digital banks, is now offering a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) service with the introduction of livi PayLater that provides an instant installment option along with a virtual Mastercard debit card.

The livi PayLater BNPL solution comes with automatic installments and flexible repayment periods ranging from 3 to 36 months. The pay-over-time option is available for transactions valued at HKD 100 (and the approved credit limit).

livi’s management noted that clients are able to get approval within seconds with a quick application process and transparent monthly fees.

Clients will receive a handling fee waiver for up to 3 months on livi PayLater transactions. They’ll have the option to pay back their installment spending in full so that they are not charged any extra fees.

By having the virtual livi PayLater Mastercard debit card and being able to add it to their digital wallets, clients are able to make convenient purchases online and at in-store locations as well.

Transactions performed with the card get split into more manageable installments during the repayment period selected by the client, with no additional applications needed.

Clients can then conveniently manage their installment spending via the livi banking app.

Livi bank’s latest announcement has come when the BNPL sector in Southeast Asia has become quite crowded with major competitors such as Grab, GoJek, Razer and Oriente taking part in this new trend.

Carol Hung, Chief Product Officer at livi bank, stated:

“Consumers in Hong Kong are in constant search for smarter, more flexible payment options that meet their daily spending needs. livi’s existing payment products offer great convenience to our customers, but we didn’t stop there. With livi PayLater, our customers not only benefit from one of the most competitive instalment financing offers in Hong Kong, they also have the capacity to gain greater control of their spending and create the financial flexibility to help them to live life to the full.”

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/05/175255-hong-kong-based-digital-bank-livi-is-offering-new-bnpl-product-with-a-mastercard-virtual-debit-card/

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The FinTech Report podcast – Episode 3: interview with Paul Harapin, Stripe

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Paul Harapin, Head of Growth, Asia Pacific, Stripe:

Paul Harapin is the Revenue Growth Lead for Asia-Pacific at Stripe, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful startups, recently valued at $112B (AUD). Paul has a wealth of experience in the technology sector, having started and scaled various companies across the Asian region over almost 30 years, which include VMware and Tivoli Systems, two of the most successful software companies in history. Now at Stripe, Paul works closely with customers including Atlassian, Canva and Culture Amp; so he knows a thing or two about scaling Australian businesses to reach a global audience.

The FinTech Report podcast: www.fintechsummit.com.au/the-fintech-report-podcast/

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Source: https://australianfintech.com.au/the-fintech-report-podcast-episode-3-interview-with-paul-harapin-stripe/

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Real-Time Virtual Payments Provider ACI Worldwide Extends Partnership with Kuwait’s National Digital Banking Firm

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ACI Worldwide (NASDAQ: ACIW), a multinational provider of real-time virtual payment solutions, reveals that it has expanded its working relationship with KNET, which is Kuwait’s national digital banking firm.

Through the expanded partnership, ACI Worldwide and KNET will introduce several innovative virtual payment services in order to support clients during the Coronavirus crisis.

KNET, a long-time ACI client, provides end-to-end payment services for financial institutions based in Kuwait. With the assistance of the ACI Enterprise Payments Platform, KNET introduced the 3edeti service, which allows people to send Eidia digitally to any mobile number that has been registered in Kuwait.

Eidia are e-gift vouchers that may be sent as gifts to friends or family members during Eidh festival (which comes after the Holy Month of Ramadan being observed until May 14, 2021). Eidh is notably one of the most important festivals in the Islamic calendar during which a lot of cash has traditionally been exchanged between relatives and family members.

The service allows users to send Eidia digitally and instantly, and will be accessible 24/7 during the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr holiday. It provides various benefits like cashback offers and other exclusive perks from participating merchants.

Khaled Bu Abbas, Application Dev Manager at KNET, stated:

“Like many financial institutions around the world, the pandemic has forced us to accelerate innovation and offer new digital payment products and services to our customers. Utilizing the ACI Enterprise Payments Platform has helped us to rise to this challenge. It has empowered us to develop new services with a fast time to market and will future-proof our business.”

Santhosh Rao, vice president, MEASA, ACI Worldwide, remarked:

“The pandemic has cast a spotlight on the need for a robust digital payments infrastructure and financial institutions need to move quickly to succeed in this challenging and dynamic environment, without compromising the security and resilience of their core banking systems. Continuing its long-standing cooperation with ACI, KNET will be strongly placed to meet the changing needs of its customer base and to rapidly respond to shifting trends, regulatory mandates and new competition.”

The ACI Enterprise Payments Platform is described as an advanced enterprise payments solution for acquiring and authorizing transactions across virtual payment channels.

It is developed on open service-oriented architecture for carrying out robust payments. The solution provides 24×7 secure payment capabilities and is reportedly being used by the largest banks in the world.

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Source: https://www.crowdfundinsider.com/2021/05/175251-real-time-virtual-payments-provider-aci-worldwide-extends-partnership-with-kuwaits-national-digital-banking-firm/

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