HKUST and WeBank Launch First HK-Guangdong Joint Laboratory in Banking

2019-05-20

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and WeBank Co. Ltd (WeBank) have established the HKUST-WeBank Joint Laboratory to nurture talent and explore cutting-edge technologies.  Leveraging on both parties’ advantages in research and knowledge transfer in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the joint lab will collaborate on areas spanning artificial intelligence (AI), big data, blockchain as well as financial and regulatory technologies. This collaboration also serves as a high-level collaborative innovation platform for enterprises, universities and research institutes to promote knowledge transfer under the GBA Development Framework.

WeBank is China`s first private digital bank. This joint lab is not only the bank’s first research collaboration with a local university, it also signifies 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 in machine learning, blockchain, AI operations or data mining for in-depth research ventures.

The agreement was signed today 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.  Other officiating guests 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 and Director of the Joint Lab at HKUST and Prof. YANG Qiang, Chief AI Officer of WeBank and Chair Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at HKUST.

WeBank Chairman and CEO David Ku said he 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 envisions an inclusive collaboration with all types of potential partners in driving Fintech underlying algorithms and technological research. We hope to see more useful applications and innovative business models that could tackle 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.  

Possible research topics of the joint lab include ways to protect data privacy amid sharing of resources, and how to establish blockchain consortium or apply new technologies such as distributed commerce. The lab will seek to boost 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 strive to enhance the banking industry’s development through Fintech and other cutting-edge technologies. Nine research proposals have been submitted to the joint lab so far in the fields of blockchain, risk management and AI.

About WeBank Co Ltd
WeBank Co Ltd was established by renowned companies, including Tencent, Baiyeyuan Investments and Liye Group, and officially launched on December 16, 2014, in turn becoming both the first privately-owned bank and the first digital-only bank in China. To date, the Bank has launched a personal micro-loan product (“Weilidai”), an SME loan (“Weiyedai”), the WeBank mobile app (savings account and personal wealth management), a car micro-loan product (“Weichedai”), a consumer discount product (“Weizhongyouzhe”), and a B2B2C wealth management platform (“WePower”), among many other products. WeBank was built with technology at its core, and with technology as a key driver behind the bank’s development. As such, WeBank is committed to promoting innovative technologies. Since its formal launch, WeBank has already completed the construction of a comprehensive banking platform with self-owned intellectual properties, capable of handling high-volume, high-frequency transactions and has applied for more than 100 patents across a variety of technology areas. WeBank is also the very first commercial bank to be recognized as a National High-tech Enterprise by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China. WeBank strongly embraces the oft-stated ‘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.

 

For media enquiries, please contact:
Anita Lam
Tel: 2358 6313
Email: anitalam@ust.hk  

Sam Li
Tel: 2358 6317 / 5190 7882
Email: liyongning@ust.hk

Prof. Nancy IP (front left), HKUST Vice-President for Research and Development, and Mr. Henry MA (front right), Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer of WeBank sign the agreement.
Prof. Nancy IP (front left), HKUST Vice-President for Research and Development, and Mr. Henry MA (front right), Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer of WeBank sign the agreement.
HKUST President Prof. Wei SHYY (fourth left), HKUST Provost Prof. Lionel NI (third left), HKUST Vice-President for Research and Development Prof. Nancy IP (second left), HKUST Dean of Engineering and Director of the Joint Lab Prof. Tim CHENG (first left), WeBank Chairman and CEO Mr. David KU (fourth right), WeBank President Mr. LI Nanqing (third right), WeBank Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer Mr. Henry MA (second right) and Prof. YANG Qiang, Chief AI Officer of WeBank and Chair Profess
HKUST President Prof. Wei SHYY (fourth left), HKUST Provost Prof. Lionel NI (third left), HKUST Vice-President for Research and Development Prof. Nancy IP (second left), HKUST Dean of Engineering and Director of the Joint Lab Prof. Tim CHENG (first left), WeBank Chairman and CEO Mr. David KU (fourth right), WeBank President Mr. LI Nanqing (third right), WeBank Executive Vice-President and Chief Information Officer Mr. Henry MA (second right) and Prof. YANG Qiang, Chief AI Officer of WeBank and Chair Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at HKUST (first right) unveil the plaque for the joint lab.