Singapore, December 7, 2021 — The Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) has launched the SUSS Node for Inclusive Fintech (NiFT) to spearhead the University’s fintech initiatives and support inclusive fintech for individuals who have no access to banks, the underserved and the financially-disadvantaged communities in the ASEAN region.
Led by Dr Lo Swee Won and NiFT advisor, Professor David Lee Kuo Chuen, the centre aims to deliver research, education, financial aid, and promote advocacy for equal access in the fintech sector. NiFT’s objective is also aligned with United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Both Professor Lee and Dr Lo are from the School of Business and the Node will draw on expertise from faculty members across the University’s five schools.
NiFT will organise fintech-related conferences, seminars and workshops with Fellows, partners and speakers from around the world to share their insights and experience, as well as provide hands-on training to SUSS students. These efforts aim to:
- Create awareness of the use of blockchain and technology to do good, promote financial and social inclusion;
- Share the latest fintech knowledge from industry and equip SUSS students with industry-relevant skills. To date, SUSS has about 20 fintech courses such as machine learning and AI for fintech, financial cryptography, blockchain security and privacy, fintech innovation ecosystem and inclusive fintech stemming from this strong industry collaboration;
- Identify suitable internship opportunities and job placement for SUSS students; and
- Create networking opportunities between industry leaders and students.
Elaborating on NiFT’s purpose, Professor Lee said, “Looking at our immediate geographic surroundings in ASEAN, more than one billion people are excluded from basic financial services. Setting up a basic bank account is a challenge for millions of people, much less digital banking and payment services. Financial inclusion is about providing access to communities that traditional financial institutions have historically overlooked, due to the unique economic situation, data connectivity, and education in each of these countries. NiFT exists to provide accessible fintech and blockchain education to all who seek practical knowledge in this aspect.”
Help underserved communities in the region
Through its crowd-sourced fund - the new SUSS Inclusive Fintech Fund - and contributions from pioneering fintech leaders and organisations, NiFT seeks to bring accessible education and applications in fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies such as fund transfers, transactions to students and communities in Singapore and Asia.
Professor Lee said, “Since December 2020, SGD 60,000 has been committed to bringing financial inclusion and integration to underserved communities. We have received contributions from individuals and companies such as Huobi. With more partners working towards this shared cause, we can jointly make a purposeful impact in the region and uplift entire communities through education and practical training in fintech.”
The funds will be channelled towards collaboration between academia and industry, as well as exploring the potential of blockchain technology to achieve financial integration and inclusion to reduce poverty and boosting prosperity. This will allow regional and global financial markets become more connected to each other to realise better governance, efficient capital allocation and higher growth, and grow investments. It will also enable individuals and businesses to access useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs.
Other plans in the pipeline include participation in research, and creation of fintech literature, fintech and blockchain living labs. Labs such as Metaverse Lab which harnesses technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) and Project SUNSHINE Living Lab today bring communication to remote areas with poor connectivity around the ASEAN region based on blockchain technology.
SUSS President, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat said, “I applaud NiFT’s goal of inclusivity in the application of fintech. It is in line with SUSS’s vision of being a university for social good. The applications and the benefits are wide-ranging, involving participation from our SUSS community and transcend the interdisciplinary learning we provide to our students. I look forward to NiFT’s contributions, which will benefit Singapore and the region, and help advance SUSS’s social mission.”
As part of NiFT’s efforts to support inclusivity in the fintech sector for social good, these resources will be made available to the public.
Launched in early October 2021, the Metaverse Lab was established by the NiFT team to study and investigate the metaverse – a combination of the physical and virtual world with a decentralised web that allows sharing, attention, contributory, and platform economies. Metaverse can produce network effects that work hand-in-hand with the physical world.
The lab harnesses VR or AR technologies to create an open ecosystem to empower individuals or organisations to connect, collaborate and innovate. It allows access to all and encourages an open market.
In conjunction with the setting up of the lab, SUSS will be organising a two-day workshop on the latest topics on metaverse on November 25 and 26, 2021.
The lab will conduct technical and behavioural research in the virtual environment and offer workshops on interesting topics such as:
- Non-fungible tokens (NFTs): Development, evolution and use cases;
- NFTs and the metaverse: A trans-ecosystem currency;
- Human-like AI in the metaverse: Algorithms, deployment, hardware and trust; and
- Cryptocurrencies in the metaverse.
Project SUNSHINE Living Lab
Launched in January 2020, Project SUNSHINE Living lab was established by NiFT in collaboration with Meshbox and SmartMesh, to conduct live training and in-depth instruction in the areas of blockchain technologies, decentralised finance, open banking, cryptocurrency, e-payments and security, technology risk management and compliance, building of inclusive digital infrastructure as well as ethics and governance.
The purpose of this lab is to allow those living in rural areas to gain connectivity to internet by utilising the MeshBox hardware and peer-to-peer SmartMesh networking that bridge the communication gap.
The lab also serves to make SUSS a centre of excellence for OpenNodes – a key node that promotes collaboration across research institutions, industries and communities in the area of emerging blockchain technology. SUSS has implemented three Meshboxes in its campus as the testbed for these technologies.
Inclusive fintech refers to efforts to make financial products and services accessible and affordable to all individuals and business, regardless of their personal net worth or company size.
The network effect is a phenomenon whereby increased numbers of people or participants improve the value of a good or service.
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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education, and transforming society through social sciences. We develop work-ready graduates and work-adaptive alumni to their fullest potential through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.
We offer over 80 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes, which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce.
Our programmes and courses are made available through our five schools:
- S R Nathan School of Human Development
- School of Business
- School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
- School of Law
- School of Science and Technology
To date, over 38,000 graduates have experienced our unique brand of education, and each year, about 15,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.
The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), as part of SUSS, leads in the field of research on adult learning to build capabilities of the training and adult education sector in Singapore and beyond.
For more information on SUSS, please visit www.suss.edu.sg
About SUSS Node for Inclusive Fintech (NiFT)
The SUSS Node for Inclusive Fintech (NiFT) is the "Centre of Excellence" to spearhead all fintech initiatives at the university. A multi-disciplinary centre drawing on expertise from faculty members across SUSS’ five schools, and their collective publications and programmes. The Node for Inclusive Fintech serves to deliver high-quality research, public education, and policy advocacy for inclusivity in the Financial Technology sector for the benefit of society.
In Fintech-speak, a node is a basic unit of a data structure, such as a linked list or tree data structure. Nodes contain data and have linkages to other nodes. The spirit of SUSS in this sphere is inclusivity, subsidiarity, solidarity and contributory, thus deciding to be a node of information, not the central foci.
For more information on NiFT, please visit https://www.suss.edu.sg/about-suss/centres/suss-node-for-inclusive-fintech