A fintech future for finance and society

How a fintech future can create better finance and benefit society – University of Edinburgh Lecture

Economics of Financial Technology will see 73 new papers featured on the brightest new thinking on fintech around the world.

The aim is to identify innovations and big ideas that can make a real difference – not only in the financial world, but also in society and people’s lives.

“The event brings together academics and the financial services industry to discuss exciting innovations and how to turn them into practical solutions, with positive impacts,” said Gbenga Ibikunle, Professor and Chair of Finance at the University of ‘Edinburgh.

“The Scientific Committee of the conference has selected communications likely to have a real positive impact, generating exchanges between research teams and companies likely to implement their ideas and the advances they represent.

“The focus is not just on creating technology to improve business bottom lines, but also to address the challenges society faces. That’s why there are specific sessions on financial inclusion, for example. It’s still a big problem. We want to look at this in different contexts – from the perspective of developed and developing countries as well.

At least 60 of the planned paper presentations will be in person, which Professor Ibikunle says is significant: “By bringing people together in person, we hope to facilitate effective connections, conversations and networks that have been much more difficult due to the pandemic. .”

Some of the big issues being discussed include consumer credit, the use of artificial intelligence in asset pricing and investing, sustainable finance and distributed ledger technologies, and cryptofinance.

Another stream will examine the possibility of linking social media and other alternative data sources to financial information in order to identify and solve problems, such as financial difficulties, and to solve challenges related to credit scores, by especially when people move from one country to another.

“Credit information is still largely siloed between countries and it is difficult for many professionals who move from one country to another to prove their creditworthiness once they have moved across borders, even if they have never had any problems,” says Professor Ibikunle. “Therefore, we seek to encourage research and discussions on how alternative data sources could unlock the potential of consumer credit and improve the way financial systems communicate with each other.”

This joins broader conversations about how financial data can be used to positively impact social wellbeing, paving the way for research that creates data

innovate for good. This question will be addressed by one of the keynote speakers, Dame Julia

Unwin, president of Smart Data Foundry, main sponsor of the event.

Dame Julia says: “There is real potential if we can understand how people earn, spend and save and what they do with their money. It’s not about benefits for individual companies, it has the potential to benefit society and regional economies – to do really practical things.

“This event is a chance to really look at these big future impacts. We can already see how financial data can help examine issues like the poverty premium – the fact that the poor pay more for services. decades of talking about it. We now have the ability to absolutely prove it, test it, ask why.

“Another example is putting reliable information about how people pay for and use energy in the public domain. The data does not contain the complete solution, but it may have an impact. »

Another guest speaker at the event is Sanjiv Das, professor of finance and data science at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business.

“We want the event to reflect global fintech hubs, so we have strong representation from research clusters around Silicon Valley,” says Professor Ibikunle. “But there are other important hubs in development in other parts of the world – particularly in China, but also in Singapore, India, South Africa, Nigeria and more.”

Regulators – including the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as well as major analytics firms like Moody’s will also be represented at the conference.

Professor Ibikunle says regulators are a crucial piece of the puzzle in the evolution of fintech, as they increasingly step out of their comfort zone to engage in innovation.

“Their main objective is to ensure fair competition and the integrity of the financial services sector,” he explains, “but they are now doing much more, becoming less risk-based. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has led the way with the sandbox to allow companies to innovate in a safe regulatory environment before presenting themselves for approval.

“Regulators are becoming more courageous and helping to address major societal challenges through the regulatory power at their disposal.”

So what are Professor Ibikunle’s hopes for the conference?

“We expect to see new connections being made and big discussions about big ideas,” he says. “The papers scheduled for presentation have been peer-reviewed, but none have yet been published in journals, which means we provide a platform to share the very latest research – and we want to see the innovations that “they represent adopted. We want industry to recognize the potential of articles and seek to work with academics.”

“These articles can be the precursor to new advances in the sector, so we hope to see positive impacts in the coming years.”

And what is the future role of the University of Edinburgh? “We want to be at the center of the global fintech ecosystem,” says Professor Ibikunle. “We want to be seen as a leader in the global fintech network, helping to facilitate its growth and positive impact on society.”

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