The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School has announced the establishment of the Cambridge SupTech Lab, a new initiative that takes financial supervisors on a journey to shape the future of financial supervision accelerating the development of cutting-edge, globally scalable supervisory technology (suptech) applications.
To make financial supervision smart and agile, financial supervisors and regulators are invited to team up with the Cambridge SupTech Lab’s network of technologists, data scientists, business analysts, economists, and researchers. This will enable them to craft applications that automate lengthy manual processes, distil large swathes of data that financial consumers and institutions generate into usable intelligence, and identify new insights to make informed and timely decisions.
Participating supervisors will become Cambridge SupTech Lab Innovation Leaders, who will have access online leadership education, ground-breaking research, new analytical frameworks, innovative digital tools for market intelligence and business analysis, as well as the skills to manage the development of innovative products end-to-end.
The first phase of the Cambridge SupTech Lab has received funding of $3.1million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to focus on accelerating suptech applications that transform financial consumer protection and market conduct supervision and drive the sustainable development of digital financial services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).
“This major funding from the Gates Foundation enables the CCAF to further deliver on its aim to create and transfer knowledge within the financial sector, particularly where gaps exist,” said Professor Robert Wardrop, Co-founder and Director of the CCAF. “The Cambridge SupTech Lab is a key initiative in advancing financial supervision through the development of frontier technology solutions to augment the capabilities of supervisory authorities and the advancement of regulatory innovation.”
“The fast pace of financial services’ digitalisation has exacerbated the challenges that central banks face in implementing their mandates. With limited supervisory capabilities and outdated tools, they are seeking to modernise their approaches, methodologies, technologies, and skillsets” says Simone di Castri, Co-Head of the Cambridge SupTech Lab.
“For the first time, a major academic institution is launching a structured, comprehensive initiative focused on enhancing innovation in financial supervision – linking leadership building and education, ground-breaking research, and the incubation of new suptech applications. We want to redefine financial supervision with the supervisors who will join us in this journey, giving them enhanced capabilities through new tech, data science, and agile development. And we provide them with a community of peers and multidisciplinary experts to co-create a future where financial sectors drive inclusiveness, sustainability, and accountability in our economies and societies.”
The initiative is gender intentional, aiming to encourage the participation and engagement of female regulators and supervisors, as well as incorporating gender equality/inclusiveness into the design and development phases of the co-created scalable suptech solutions.
“The Cambridge SupTech Lab is focused on supporting Innovation Leaders who will be able to drive institutional digital transformation and effective adoption of suptech in the era of digital finance,” said Bryan Zhang, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the CCAF. “This initiative allows us to walk that innovation journey with them by providing empirical evidence to inform decisions, scalable and transferrable digital tools to enhance the supervisory capability, and the capacity building and training programmes to create leaders of future.”
In the first year, the Cambridge SupTech Lab will make available 90 scholarships for central bankers and financial supervisors who are committed to becoming Innovation Leaders by joining the leadership education programme. The Lab’s team will work hand-in-hand with financial authorities in 15 LMICs to develop at least ten proof-of-concepts (POCs) and five new applications for market conduct supervision, democratising consumer protection which will empower users of financial services, and generate insights for market oversight.
Meanwhile, the Cambridge SupTech Lab team will seek opportunities to serve the needs of supervisory authorities in other areas, such as anti-money laundering (AML) supervision and the oversight of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk management.