Inside the Cambridge FinTech and Regulatory Innovation Programme

Posted on Sep 26, 2021 by Altantsetseg Ganbold, Account Manager, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance


About the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance

Established in 2015, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has grown to become the largest research centre at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. With more than 50 full-time staff and researchers, it is dedicated to the study of technology-enabled innovative instruments, channels, and systems emerging outside of traditional finance. This includes, among others, crowdfunding, marketplace lending, alternative credit and investment analytics, mobile payment and digital remittance, crypto-assets, blockchain, InsureTech, WealthTech, and RegTech, as well as related regulations and regulatory innovations (e.g. sandboxes & SupTech).

The CCAF has published 42 high-impact industry and regulatory reports and conducts an annual series of benchmarking surveys reaching more than 4,500 FinTech firms in over 185 countries. The Centre has built long-term research relationships with over 300 fintech ecosystem partners and more than 50 academic institutions around the world. Access to the entire library of CCAF publications is available here.

The CCAF has also collaborated with more than 120 regulatory authorities and central banks worldwide on regulatory research, regularly providing data and advice to multilateral institutions (e.g., World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations) and global standard setting bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Financial Stability Board, and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

The CCAF has also successfully delivered online capacity building and education to more than 1,000 regulators and central bankers from 220 institutions in over 135 countries via its Cambridge FinTech and Regulatory Innovation (CFTRI) online executive programme.

Cambridge FinTech and Regulatory Innovation (CFTRI) Programme

Why the Need for the CFTRI Programme?

Globally, the financial services industry is undergoing a rapid and far-reaching transformation, underpinned by new and emerging technologies, actors, and activities. This transformation is fundamentally changing market structures and opening opportunities for both incumbents and challengers to create innovative, alternative financial products and services with the potential for improved service quality and variety, as well as increased access and reduced prices.

Thousands of new firms, products, and services are creating an extremely vibrant global alternative finance ecosystem. Everything from blockchain-based digital assets to new wealth management services, from online capital raising channels and instruments such as marketplace/peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, initial coin offerings (ICOs) to new payment systems, e-money, Insurtech, remittance services and digital banking services – the financial services system is undergoing a full scale, technology-driven, digital transformation (CCAF, 2020).

Regulators must respond to these changes in the financial services landscape and introduce their own range of innovative initiatives to address market developments in their jurisdictions. Regulatory sandboxes, RegTech/SupTech, innovation offices, regulatory framework reform and revision, and various international cooperation initiatives have emerged around the world offering new insights and learning opportunities (World Bank and CCAF, 2019).

The CFTRI programme was created in 2019 in response to these rapidly changing financial systems and regulatory environments to provide an efficient, timely opportunity for regulators and policymakers to (i) become aware and equipped to deal with the emergent challenges; (ii) understand how to leverage opportunities to improve through regulatory innovation; and (iii) enact effective, appropriate, and proportionate regulatory responses to market innovation in financial systems.

The programme draws upon the most current, explanatory, and insightful fintech case studies, data, and examples from a diverse set of geographies, business models, and economic contexts, while benefiting from the expertise and experience offered by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The value proposition of the programme is that it offers insights, knowledge, and content. But just as important, it provides a unique opportunity and safe space for regulators and policymakers to network, share ideas, and think through the challenges and issues presented by new financial innovations, enabling them to work towards better approaches, strategies, and methods to address these challenges.

CFTRI Programme Overview

The Programme is designed as a tutor-led online programme with the following objectives to help all learners:

  • Develop a holistic understanding of the mechanics and applications of key innovative technologies employed by fintech firms;
  • Distinguish between various fintech business models and evaluate potential regulatory and policy implications and responses across regulatory jurisdictions;
  • Utilize analytical tools to critically assess fintech business models and prioritize areas of regulation according to their respective regulatory, supervisory, and policy objectives and capabilities;
  • Assess the viability and suitability of an array of regulatory innovation initiatives and responses in different jurisdictions; and
  • Deliver a tangible outcome that can be a catalyst for regulatory innovation within participating institutions.

Participant Outcomes

  • Identify the characteristics and business models of key FinTech sectors;
  • Describe the underlying technologies employed in a rage of FinTech activities;
  • Explore both global and regional FinTech market developments;
  • Assess the risks and opportunities of FinTech business models in their jurisdictions;
  • Identify key regulatory and policy issues relating to FinTech within specific contexts;
  • Develop analytical tools for more effective regulations and efficient regulatory processes; and
  • Participate in a global network of regulators and policymakers for peer-learning and policy transfer.

Programme Design

The programme is designed to run over eight weeks with seven core modules in the syllabus. Over the eight weeks, participants learn essential concepts concerning the technologies and business models that are transforming the financial industry. The focus of the programme is on formulating evidence-based regulatory, supervisory, and policy responses to the development of financial technology. The structure of the programme is illustrated in the diagram below:

Programme Delivery

The programme is delivered using an online asynchronous learning platform (Moodle) to share the programme content, combined with synchronous live guest sessions, live tutorial sessions, and support with the development of a capstone project. Participants are taught by leading economists, lawyers, engineers, regulators, and development professionals in the interactive online sessions. The live guest speaker and tutorial sessions are conducted using Zoom.

The Learner Journey

The carefully selected topics for the CFTRI programme were designed as the essential building blocks of the emerging financial transformation in the digitised economy. These themes are encapsulated and explored through analyses of existing case studies and examples are drawn from multiple financial activities in many jurisdictions globally.

The pedagogy consists of simulations, exercises, role-playing activities, cases, discussions, and lectures, ensuring that all sessions are highly interactive and applied to the most cutting-edge state of the industry. Each session has key lessons that can be adopted in practice.

A key theme running through the CFTRI is enabling participating regulators and policymakers to devise strategies and responses that are most appropriate to their jurisdiction/market/context, which leads to the creation of project proposals aimed at providing solutions that will be implemented. 

Another key component of the CFTRI is that it focuses on real-life case studies rather than reading theoretical texts, to help promote critical thinking, activating schemata, ensuring jurisdictional relevance into all content, and evaluating any initiatives undertaken in the cases or by peers for appropriacy and feasibility.

As shown in the diagram below, this pedagogical approach is reflected in the learning journey of a typical week:

Live Tutorial Sessions  

A key benefit of the way the CFTRI programme has been designed is to provide an interactive learning environment for participants through group activities to stimulate peer learning and knowledge sharing. 

In each cohort, participants are subdivided into tutorial groups of 15–25 individuals, all of whom are supported by a dedicated tutor(s) that facilitates group discussion for each module on a weekly basis. The tutors provide subject matter input and make connections where necessary. The tutors are all individuals with fintech & regulatory innovation experience and may currently be or have worked within regulatory or policymaking institutions.

Live Guest Sessions

Each week, we also conduct a one-hour live session to focus on the week’s discussion topics. Global experts from organisations such as the BIS and the World Bank are invited to share their insights on the module topic. The transcript of the interactions and questions and answers from the live sessions are synthesized and posted on the virtual learning environment (VLE) with the live session recordings.

Capstone Project Proposal

All participants are encouraged to work in smaller groups comprised of 2–4 individuals to collaborate on delivering an implementable project, report, tool, or output to be practically employed within their respective organisation/jurisdiction that is focussed on a particular fintech or regulatory innovation issue or activity.

We have encouraged the project groups to be organised across the following dimensions:

  • Institutional - e.g., participants from the same institution work together on their group project
  • Geographic - e.g., participants from the same region e.g., East Africa, Latin America, ASEAN
  • Thematic - e.g., participants may focus on a specific topic, such as crypto-assets or Islamic Finance
  • Economic context - e.g., participants may work together based on economic context

Previous projects have included the launch of new regulatory and market development initiatives, improvements to existing innovation offices, and the formation of inter-jurisdictional collaborations.

Programme Certificate

Upon successful completion, participants will be awarded with a certificate from the University of Cambridge Executive Education.

Regulator Knowledge Exchange Platform for CFTRI Alumnus

The CCAF introduced a Regulatory Knowledge Exchange (RKE) community platform. As alumni of the CFTRI programme, participants are invited to join a secure and user-friendly digital platform to continue discussions and share knowledge after the programme ends. The demand for this platform was determined from CFTRI user feedback. Former participants wrote that staying in touch with classmates, obtaining technical assistance from experts, and sharing resources and good practice was in high demand.

To be eligible, applicants must be financial regulators specialising in the regulation of channels and instruments of finance that emerge outside of the traditional banking sector.

The RKE is a community platform where financial regulators can join members from over 70 jurisdictions in discussion and working groups on topics such as central bank digital currencies or peer-to-peer lending. Other features of the site include a specialist library, a member directory, an online events programme, and a variety of useful benchmarking tools.

The Centre is currently exploring how participants might be able to obtain access to subsidised technical expertise through the platform at no or low cost, for example under an open access policy. To join the initiative please email rke@jbs.cam.ac.uk or sign up via rke.ccaf.io/signup.

Conclusion

In the CFTRI programme learners will (i) develop an understanding of key innovative technologies; (ii) evaluate FinTech business models; (iii) assess their potential regulatory and policy implications and responses; (iv) prioritize areas of regulation according to their respective regulatory, supervisory, and policy objectives and assess the regulatory innovation initiatives and responses in different jurisdictions; and (v) deliver a tangible outcome that can be a catalyst for regulatory innovation within participating institutions.

As financial services continue to undergo an extraordinary transformation, regulation and policy must also adapt and evolve to confront the new and increasingly sophisticated challenges presented by emerging tech. By harnessing the expertise of leading authorities in the fintech and regulatory innovation space, the CFTRI programme has, since its inception in 2019, helped equip regulators and policymakers with the knowledge and tools to respond to these challenges in their unique jurisdictions.

Dates

Registration

30 September 2021–10 December 2021 (register by 2 October)

For further details, visit the website

16 February 2022–15 April 2022

Registration form available here

Fee

Contact

US $2000 per participant

Altantsetseg Ganbold

E: ccaf.edu@jbs.cam.ac.uk; a.ganbold@jbs.cam.ac.uk

Tel: +44 (0)7496202419

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Tags

Fintech, Regulations, Education, Innovation