EPFL aims to build trust in fintechs

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A new research program will combine the specialist knowledge of the Swiss Finance Institute @ EPFL with insights from the School’s data scientists and digital trust experts.

The financial markets affect pensions, investments and other major life decisions in often unexpected ways. Experts aside, most people are susceptible to making bad decisions or to falling victim to poor advice or even fraud.

At a time when digital technologies are revolutionizing the way people bank and manage their money, there is a pressing need for better tools, more transparency, and greater trust in the financial services industry.

Expertise of all fields under one roof

EPFL is one of only a handful of universities worldwide with cutting-edge expertise in finance and computer science under the same roof. "We think there’s real untapped potential for collaboration," says Damir Filipovic, head of the Swiss Finance Institute @ EPFL.

Swissquote, co-founded by EPFL alumnus Marc Bürki, has sponsored the Swissquote Chair in Quantitative Finance for the past ten years and is a founding member of EPFL’s Center for Digital Trust (C4DT) . The Swiss online bank has opted to take its support a step further by co-funding a new Finance and Technology Research Program, with Filipovic serving as its academic director. The news was unveiled at the Swissquote 2019 Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Finance, held today at the SwissTech Convention Center. Quote Marc Bürki ?

Implications for everyday life

Two or three PhD students and one or two postdoctoral researchers will join the program, known informally as Fintech Lab, in its inaugural year. The program will come under the joint academic direction of the Swiss Finance Institute @ EPFL (part of EPFL’s College of Management of Technology), and faculty members specializing in computer science. The finance focus means the program will also have close ties with the C4DT. "The researchers will explore and develop new technologies with applications in fields like asset management, automated trading, risk management and corporate governance," explains Filipovic. "There will also be a strong emphasis on building trust."

The research outputs will have implications far beyond the trading floor, influencing many areas of everyday life. "Trust in financial technology rests on three factors: the technology itself, economic theory, and psychology," adds Filipovic. "Our new program is about covering all three bases at once - and about raising Switzerland’s already high profile in an industry that’s vital to its economy."