Abstract: On May 20th, WeBank and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced they have established the HKUST-WeBank Joint Laboratory. Leveraging on both parties’ advantages in research and knowledge transfer in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the lab will focus on the banking sector. The two parties work together in the fields of fintech, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, and regulatory technology, jointly explore cutting-edge technologies, jointly train scientific research personnel, and build an innovation platform in the Greater Bay Area.


On May 20th, WeBank and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) announced they have established the HKUST-WeBank Joint Laboratory. 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.

Leveraging on both parties’ advantages in research and knowledge transfer in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the lab will focus on the banking sector. 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 of GBA to explore cutting-edge technologies and nurture talent.


Focus on the Bank’s pain point, enhance the GBA capacity of scientific research

Recently, Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Areais proposed to “strengthen cooperation in innovation and technology, enhance the in-depth integration of industries, academia and research” There are more new opportunities for the cooperation of industries, academia and research in GBA. Under this new turning point, WeBank, which was born in the Greater Bay Area and has “science and technology gene”, is the first to launch the industries-academia-research cooperation project, and set up the first joint laboratory of the banking industry with HKUST, one of the top 50 universities in the world.

It is understood that in 2018, WeBank has cooperated with HKUST in the field of risk monitoring and anti-money laundering to improve the bank’s risk control ability and business level through the transformation of academic achievements. With the establishment of the joint laboratory, they will continue to pool their advantages and conduct in-depth cooperation in machine learning, the bottom layer of blockchain, intelligent operation and maintenance, data mining and other directions. The two parties will study the joint training mode under the condition of protecting the data security of multiple parties and realizing the sharing of resources and jointly develop alliance chain and distributed business and other new technology fields of application exploration work. Through machine learning pattern recognition and data mining technology, risk monitor and control of bank transaction data is carried out, assisting business personnel to conduct various risk analysis and system construction, and improve the risk control level of the bank. Science and technology enable finance and effectively improve the development of banking business through the cutting-edge technologies in academic fields.

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. ” Throughout the development of the world’s three-bay areas, technological innovation and the ability to transform academic achievements are decisive factors for success. Since last year, HKUST and WeBank have begun cooperation in public opinion risk control, anti-money laundering and other fields. HKUST has started a collaboration with WeBank last year on public opinion analysis and anti-money laundering to enhance banks’ business 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.


Connect the cooperated partners, building a new ecosystem of open banks

In recent years, two separates but converging trends are likely to have a profound and fundamental impact for financial services: On the one hand, the financial needs of Internet and intelligent terminal users (especially the long tail users) are increasingly contextualized, mobile, timely and fragmented. On the other hand, blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data and other technologies make the inter-institutional, cross-business and cross-industry cooperation increasingly frequent, which makes the emergence of new models such as open banking and distributed business.

These two trends reinforce and influence each other, transforming technology and data from “tools to meet business needs” into “endogenous forces to generate new businesses and restructure the value chain”. Under this background, the joint laboratory of fintech jointly built by WeBank and Hong Kong University of Science and technology is of special significance.

As the first private bank in China, WeBank has established the vision of “technology, inclusion and connection” and the mission of “making finance accessible to the public” at the very beginning of its establishment. WeBank is committed to serving micro-enterprises and the general public. At present, it serves more than 100 million individual customers and more than 500,000 enterprise customers.

Since its opening, WeBank has invested actively in artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing and big data and applied them to business development, and constructs the first distributed architecture banking core system based on security and control technology in China. In 2018, the number of invention patent applications reached 104, ranking the fifth in the “2018 global ranking of bank invention patents”. The total number of national patents applied reached 234, leading the Chinese banking industry in innovation ability, and becoming the first commercial bank in China to obtain the qualification of “national high-tech enterprise”. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has long been one of Asia’s top and internationally renowned research universities, reaching the world-class level in science, engineering, business management and other fields, and ranking among the top in innovation research and talent cultivation.

WeBank and HKUST set up a joint laboratory to introduce the scientific research advantage of the world-leading university of science and technology, closely track the development and application of cutting-edge technologies in fintech, which is in line with the concept of “open bank” of WeBank: Relying on the scientific research advantages of HKUST and the technology and business accumulation of WeBank, Open Innovation enables continuous technological Innovation; With the help of Open Platform, banks can connect with other partners through API, SDK, H5, etc.; Open Collaboration further embraces openness to build an open business ecosystem based on collaboration in business and technical capabilities.


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