CCAF Catalysing Change and Enhancing Impact: Strengthening Financial Authorities through Digital Knowledge

Posted on Mar 21, 2024 by Rochelle Momberg, Senior Learning Manager, Akshi Saggar, Learning Technologist, Gulgun Afacan Adanir, Learning Technologist, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance

Authors of CCAF article in March 2024 issue of CBPN

Digital transformation “entails changes at a fundamental, foundational level, which means that it requires organizations to evolve.” (BIS 2019)


The rapid expansion of financial services globally, alongside advancements in technology and the constantly shifting regulatory and supervisory landscapes, is prompting industry stakeholders and financial authorities to embark on a journey of digital transformation. This crucial transition aims to adeptly navigate the intricate and emerging regulatory and supervisory challenges presented by the dynamic environment.

To navigate through the clutter and effectively address potential while mitigating risks, gaining a comprehensive understanding and insight into the evolutionary environment is an integral pillar.

“As a regulator, being armed with knowledge from different perspectives allows for prudent regulation and supervision in facilitating innovation while, inter alia, ensuring financial stability and protecting consumers.” Kavita Maharaj-Alexander, Chief Policy and Development Officer, Cayman Islands Monetary Authority

In January 2015, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF), a research centre at the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, was established with a mission of creating and transferring knowledge.

Catalysing Change with Empowering Education

Through close collaboration with academic researchers, national and international policy-making bodies, and industry practitioners, the CCAF provides the expertise necessary to fulfil its mission. Its ongoing evolution fuels influence and drives impactful change by nurturing an environment that supports evidence-based decision-making among fintech market participants, financial authorities, policymakers, and stakeholders alike. Since its inception, the CCAF has published more than 30 high-profile and high-impact industry and policy reports. These research outputs have been cited, referenced, and utilised 127+ times by academic researchers around the world as well as global regulator and policymaker communities.

In 2019 the CCAF launched its first Executive Education course, the Cambridge FinTech & Regulatory Innovation (CFTRI) programme. The programme provided regulators and policymakers a unique opportunity and safe space 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. Through immersive and integrated learning over an intensive eight-week span, participants engaged in knowledge building.

“The programme included topics to nurture the individual knowledge and enable learning from other international colleagues on how they are implementing FinTech in their home country and what are the difficulties and challenges they might face.” Sultan Al Romaithi, Capital Market Intermediaries Specialist, Abu Dhabi Global Market, United Arab Emirates

A critical component of the programme included the development of capstone projects centred on fintech or regulatory innovation, tailored to benefit their respective organisations or jurisdictions. As participants bridged the gap between theory and practice, they adeptly pinpointed pain points and proposed innovative solutions. Consequently, they identified additional skill requirements crucial for further advancing the realisation of their projects.

Expanding Influence with Portfolio Diversity

As demand surged and emerging market trends reshaped the landscape, the CCAF embarked on a deliberate expansion of its executive education programmes. This was characterised by meticulous analysis of participant surveys, targeted responses to identified needs from capstone projects, and attention on trends. In 2021 the Cambridge SupTech Lab (Lab) was established with a specific focus to accelerate the digital transformation of financial supervision and supervisory agencies. The Lab launched the Inaugural Innovation Leadership Programme (ILP) in 2022.

What began as a single endeavour has matured into a diverse portfolio of programmes for both industry and financial authorities, reflecting dynamic growth and adaptation according to organisational and market needs. To enhance opportunities and aligned with our pursuit of inclusivity, a curated selection of scholarships has been introduced, supported by various developmental partnerships. The current portfolio spans a range of cutting-edge fields driving modern financial ecosystems, encompassing CFTRI, SupTech Frontiers (SF), Digital Assets for Regulators (CDAR), Digital Assets for Enterprises (CDAE), Practical Data Science in Financial Supervision (PDS), Product and Organisational Innovation (POI), as well as Open Banking, Open Finance (OBOF).

Over the last few years, we’ve trained 2000+ regulators, supervisors, and central bankers as well as industry and corporate professionals from over 345 organisations and authorities in 153 countries, embracing a strong focus on gender diversity. Additionally, the CCAF and Lab have worked with many of the financial authorities on the regulation of fintech activities and the transformation and redefining of supervision with suptech solutions integration.

Transformational Impact

Let's explore CCAF's role in building up participants' skills and the broader impacts seen. In the dynamic spheres of financial regulation and supervision, the CCAF and Lab initiatives have resulted in significant impact, both quantitatively and qualitatively. By weaving a golden thread among the emerging trends, we've generated impact at both individual and institutional levels through our interconnected programmes.

Empowering Efficiency: Harnessing Knowledge for Enhanced Productivity

With participants often being key personnel within their authorities, they've leveraged their experiences and insights to facilitate the involvement of further colleagues in subsequent courses, thus fostering ongoing capacity building, as can be seen from a few select jurisdictions.

This journey facilitates the breakdown of silos within agencies, nurturing a unified understanding of essential concepts and practices, and cultivating a collaborative environment conducive to innovation and holistic problem-solving.

Through these efforts, we actively champion the values of community and collaboration, which underpin our approach to capacity building, nurturing an environment where shared growth and innovation thrive.

Transformational Projects: Spearheading Progress in Emerging Markets

We embrace capstone projects because they offer a dynamic avenue for participants to bridge theory with practice, empowering them to craft impactful solutions and initiatives tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities present in emerging markets. These projects serve as catalysts for innovation, enabling participants to develop actionable proposals that address pressing issues such as digital assets, cyber risks, ESG concerns, Generative AI, and the implications of Large Language Models. Beyond the realm of academia, capstone projects serve as incubators for real-world solutions, providing participants with a platform to translate classroom learning into practical outcomes.

Through structured guidance and feedback, we assist participants in refining their ideas, nurturing essential skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and effective communication. Moreover, by facilitating the development of these projects, we prepare participants to confidently present their proposals to boards or executives, fostering a pathway for the potential implementation of their solutions and initiatives in the ever-evolving landscape of emerging markets. Some examples of these capstone projects, developed by participants, include:

  • Adopting Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) regulatory tool in Non-Banking Financial Sector
  • Blockchain Smart Contract Fintech data collection, analysis, and risk system
  • CBDC Risk Management Framework
  • Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and the Challenges of AML/CFT
  • AI, ML, and NLP driven systemic risk assessment automation
  • Financial network analytics driven systemic risk assessment
  • Financial Consumer Protection Suite encompassing chatbot, web portal & ML-based analysis
  • Automated Data Reporting System encompassing Computer Vision and Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Collaborative Growth: Peer Learning and Knowledge Exchange

To foster creative and strategic thinking, as well as innovation-inspired mindsets, we emphasise the power of peer learning. Through peer learning, we encourage experimentation, risk-taking, and open-mindedness, empowering individuals to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries of conventional thinking. 

Alex Ochan of the Bank of Uganda notes: “The nature of the global participants in the programme gave me the opportunity to share experiences and learn from other regulators the challenges that they face with regulating financial innovations and how they cope with those challenges. Lastly, the tutors were very knowledgeable, and most sessions were based on empirical evidence from research. I strongly recommend the programme to other financial sector regulators.”

Peer learning is complemented by the Regulator Knowledge Exchange Platform, a community for financial authorities, boasting over 1800 members engaging in meaningful exchanges, sharing experiences, discussing innovative initiatives, and offering mutual guidance and support. By leveraging our community’s diverse experiences and perspectives within the educational programmes, we create an environment where individuals can learn from each other, challenge assumptions, and spark new ideas.

Driving Change through Innovative Data Tools

In response to the evolving landscape of emerging needs, a suite of new digital tools has been developed to support research and programme development. Among these tools are the Cambridge Alternative Finance Benchmarks and the Cambridge Fintech Ecosystem Atlas, integral components utilised within the FinTech and Regulatory Innovation and SupTech Frontiers Programmes. Additionally, the latter programme leverages the SupTech Vendor Database and SupTech Solutions Tracker, dynamic platforms that enable users to connect and explore a global marketplace of providers, use cases, and innovative solutions. 

Rweyemamu Barongo of the Bank of Tanzania notes: ”I appreciate the rich resources of use cases, vendors, research reports on many areas in suptech, and networking with other supervisors. These are our useful guidance in the suptech initiatives.”

The tools empower individuals and authorities to develop as-is evaluations and leverage data-driven insights and decision-making, facilitating tangible impacts within their respective spheres. By enabling participants to expand the scope of their capstone projects and enhancing their ability to influence policy, these tools drive meaningful institutional and jurisdictional change.

Maximising Post-Course Impact: New Approaches, Frameworks, and Product Development

On average, 95% of participants express confidence in the development potential of their capstone projects, with 46% of them indicating a high likelihood of successful implementation.

Ahmed Raza Khan Lodhi of the State Bank of Pakistan notes: “The guidance and insights gained have been invaluable in shaping our strategic initiatives. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a transformative journey in digital innovation! I am truly impressed with the program's comprehensive approach and the exceptional support it provides.”

Livia Bertin-Mark of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank notes: “This training has come at a critical juncture for my institutions as we are now venturing towards the development of a supervisory framework for digital assets. I recognise more so that there is a need to change the mindset of how we approach the supervision of VASPs not in the same vein as traditional finance.” Pamela Kahwa of the Bank of Uganda notes: “The enhanced knowledge of fintech business models and risks enables confident assessment of the gaps in BOU's supervisory framework and identify suitable applications to address them.”

These testimonies, among others, succinctly demonstrate the practical utilisation of their new knowledge in developing innovative approaches and frameworks, highlighting the programme's instrumental role in empowering participants to drive meaningful change within their institutions.

The ripple effect of post-course impact is further illustrated by the advancement of new products and solutions. As set out in the Lab’s State of SupTech report, “teams from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Philippines, the Bank of Ghana (BOG), the Superintendence of Banking, Insurance and Private Pension Funds Administrators of Peru (SBS) and the Indonesian Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK) engaged in the Cambridge SupTech Lab Capacity Building & Education programme during 2022 and developed five proof-of-concepts aimed at creating three innovative SupTech solutions. By 2023, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lab extended its partnership to include these five agencies for the development of working prototypes, each incorporating elements of web scraping and public sentiment topic modelling.”


From fostering innovation to investing in capacity building and leading digital transformation, the journey towards adopting and implementing innovation is multifaceted. Still, leading the charge in navigating complex challenges and digital transformation has become a non-negotiable imperative. As we head into 2024, initiatives across different jurisdictions are either already underway or in the process of development, signalling our ongoing commitment to our community.

In this digital age, the path forward is clear: embrace innovation, empower individuals, and forge ahead confidently into the future. The holistic approach of programmes, insights, tools, and cutting-edge solution development in the pursuit of making a global impact, positions the CCAF and the Lab as trusted partners and central players in digital education, knowledge transfer, and the advancement of resilient, inclusive financial sectors, as well as sustainable financial innovation development.

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