As the 21st century calls for the 4th Industrial Revolution, we can see more of technology being seamed into the fabric of our lives and changing how we live, work and communicate. The clearest example is how e-wallets and digital payments are becoming the new form of payment.
Thanks to financial technology (FinTech) which embodies IR4.0 technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, people are able to have a seamless and secured experience in going about their daily lives during the pandemic.
While FinTech offers solutions, this phenomenon also signifies that accounting and finance professionals have to embrace rapid transformation and adapt to technological advancements. According to a research conducted by the University of Oxford, accountants are more likely to be affected by the emergence of AI technologies.
This calls for immediate upskilling in strategic knowledge and technical skills for financial professionals to take on new roles such as FinTech specialists and business data analysts within the industry. According to the National Policy on Industry 4.0, FinTech is listed as one of the areas that require talents to transform the country’s digital economy.
Apart from the Government encouraging the masses to use e-wallets through the e-Tunai Rakyat under Budget 2020, Bank Negara announced in 2018 its plans to issue up to five licences for digital banking within the country to encourage industry players of the financial sector to put innovative technologies into use. The need for talents in FinTech who possess the necessary skills and knowledge has become even more critical.
The APU advantage – infusing IR4.0 into Programmes
As one of Malaysia’s highest rated Premier Digital Tech Universities that established its own IR4.0 strategy, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) has formed an ecosystem that facilitates the delivery of IR4.0-relevant programmes infusing key technologies such as data science, cybersecurity and digital forensics, e-business, and AI / intelligent systems.
As part of this ecosystem, FinTech education is integrated into the accounting, banking and finance disciplines, powered by concepts and applications of blockchain technology, Robo advisory, FinTech governance and risk management, digital currencies and cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding. The exposure to specific FinTech modules ensures that students are not alienated by the rapid transformation happening around the financial sector when they graduate.
Pioneering FinTech programmes
For school leavers and future IT professionals, APU offers Malaysia’s first academic programme in FinTech – the Bachelor of Banking of Finance (Hons) with a specialism in Financial Technology, in addition to the BSc (Hons) Information Technology with a specialism in Financial Technology – FinTech.
With the recent launch of the Master of Finance with a specialism in FinTech postgraduate programme, career professionals can now stay relevant and keep up with cutting edge disruptive technologies, which are prevalent within the financial sector.
In fact, APU’s FinTech education was established together with the industry. The first FinTech academic degree in Malaysia offered by APU was built in collaboration with SuperCharger, Asia’s leading FinTech accelerator through an agreement in 2018. It was aimed to leverage local opportunities as well as to address the talent needs of Malaysian FinTech and banktech institutions that are facing a talent shortage.
Career and Internship Opportunities in FinTech
APU also became the first and only university to sign a pact with the FinTech Association of Malaysia (FAOM) in March 2020. This partnership opens a window of opportunity for APU FinTech students who will be exposed to career and internship opportunities with over 80 members of FOAM, which include leading banks, financial institutions and FinTech platforms. This will provide them with relevant industry exposure before graduating from university.
Not only that, industry experts from FAOM will also provide inputs in enhancing the programme to comprise key areas of FinTech — namely digital currencies, blockchain technologies, crowdfunding, robo-advisory and entrepreneurial finance.
According to the latest Annual Graduate Tracer Study by the Higher Education Ministry, 100% of APU graduates were employed upon graduation. This is a significant symbol of APU’s success and pride in nurturing professionals for global careers.
APU School of Accounting and Finance
APU’s School of Accounting and Finance is headed by Prof Dr Nafis Alam — the only one from Malaysia and one of six from the Asia Pacific region — to be featured in the top 100 social media influencers shaping the conversation in FinTech. Prof Nafis, who has recently published a book on FinTech and Islamic finance, has extensive engagement with the industry and FinTech circle which will further boost the delivery of the programme.