Credit: (c) Université du Luxembourg / Michel Brumat
Esch-sur-Alzette, Lux, 7th October 2019 – Professor Gilbert Fridgen has been appointed the inaugural PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair in Digital Financial Services which will allow him to conduct scientific research at the digital transformation of financial services and the intersection of finance and technology.
This unique funding through PayPal and the FNR PEARL programme has an initial duration of five years. It is jointly supported by PayPal and the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), and hosted at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) of the University of Luxembourg.
Gilbert Fridgen is a renowned expert in blockchain, systems engineering and information technology platform development, and served as an advisor for multiple German governmental bodies, including six German federal ministries, as well as the Bundestag. He also has extensive and very successful experience with private-public partnerships. He is founder and co-director of the Fraunhofer Blockchain Lab.
Professor Fridgen will take up the Chair on January 1st, 2020.
A new digital finance research group
PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair Professor Fridgen and his newly created research group will explore the future of financial services in a data driven environment, considering a broad range of angles, from usability, onboarding and operational efficiency to regulatory supervision. Their work could therefore include:
- Developing new opportunities for blockchain/DLT, AI and IoT in financial services for both the private and public sector;
- Investigating trusted autonomous payment methods;
- Researching sustainable technology organisations in the business sector to improve efficiency, manage systemic risk and understand the financial implications of blockchain/distributed ledger technology (DLT), AI, and the Internet of Things.
“Understanding the digital transformation in various industries, designing transformative solutions in the areas of fintech and regulatory technology, as well as developing generalisable principles on ‘what makes a good design,’ will be the main objectives of my Research Group,” says PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair Professor Gilbert Fridgen. “With the progress of digital technologies, the financial services industry, as well as our economy and society as a whole, are going through massive changes. Some industries already have been disrupted by highly-innovative newcomers. In other industries, digital technologies have caused efficiency gains. Advanced technologies like blockchain/DLT, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) will present us with new and possibly even greater challenges than we have seen before.”
Fridgen continues: “The digital transformation of one company can create opportunities for the digital transformation of others. Car manufacturers collecting online sensor data create opportunities for insurance companies using AI to develop new tariff schemes based on a risk profile generated from the individual’s driving habits. This is of particular importance to the financial services industry. In order to provide the financial services of the future, the industry needs to understand the needs of its customers and business partners. As a consequence, the financial services industry may need to change its technological approach and even its business model.”
The Luxembourg Government aims to position Luxembourg as a world leader in innovative digital financial services, as well as a prominent hub for financial technology. As part of a national innovation strategy, the Government aims to accelerate these developments by fostering closer collaboration between the private sector and public research institutes.
Such a partnership has been established between PayPal Europe, the FNR and the University of Luxembourg through this PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair, to encourage the development of a critical sector for the Luxembourg economy. This type of partnership could also be applied to other activity sectors too.
The University’s SnT today has some 14 partnerships with important players in the Luxembourgish financial sector. Paypal recently joined the Centre’s Partnership Programme where it has two research projects. The accelerated growth in the Fintech research area makes SnT the ideal nurturing ground for the new PayPal-FNR Chair.
The Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, said, “With this partnership, Luxembourg takes a considerable step towards building the next exciting layers of tomorrow’s digital economy. PayPal’s vote of confidence in Luxembourg’s research ecosystem is a vote of confidence in Luxembourg’s future potential. As new PEARL partnerships develop, Luxembourg will become an essential tech research hub. I am grateful to our University and FNR for being such strong partners to a global tech leader like PayPal and making Luxembourg future-proof.”
Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal, commented, “PayPal’s mission is to democratize financial services and improve the financial health of individuals and businesses around the world. PayPal has had its European headquarters in Luxembourg since 2007, and we support the government’s ambition to make Luxembourg a world leader in innovative digital financial services. The new PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair demonstrates our commitment to partnering with governments, regulators and academic experts to increase understanding of how technology can transform financial services for the benefit of all.”
Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance, said, “Financial technology and particularly Regtech, leveraging new technologies such as Blockchain and more generally distributed ledger technology (DLT) and artificial intelligence, are crucial to the future development of the Luxembourg financial centre. By fostering research and identifying new opportunities in the area of digital financial services, the private-public partnership between PayPal, the FNR and the University of Luxembourg marks an important milestone in this context as it will contribute to Luxembourg’s efforts to stay at the cutting edge of innovation in the financial sector.”
Claude Meisch, Minister for Higher Education and Research, said: “The PayPal – FNR PEARL Chair and the private-public partnership between PayPal and the University of Luxembourg provides a perfect match with the main objective of Luxembourg’s research and innovation strategy, which is to enable the research and innovation ecosystem to acquire international visibility through excellence in research, while at the same time contributing to the long-term objectives of the country. Luxembourg has the ambition to be at the forefront of those countries who embrace the opportunities provided by the upcoming digitalization and this partnership which builds on digital innovation for one of Luxembourg’s key economic sectors illustrates how we will live up to this ambition.”
Véronique Hoffeld, Chair of the FNR Board, said, “Opening the PEARL programme to public-private partnerships, like this unprecedented PayPal-FNR PEARL Chair, will attract internationally renowned research leaders with a view to maximising the impact of research in key sectors of the Luxembourg economy. It is an excellent example of public and private sectors joining forces for the benefit of the country. Hopefully, other companies will follow the example of PayPal.”
Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Professor Fridgen in the newly created Chair, thanks to the support of FNR and PayPal. Professor Fridgen has established an outstanding reputation in his field, and the University of Luxembourg looks forward to accommodating and supporting him in his research work in Fintech, a strategically important area for the University of Luxembourg.”