Space is the place for next gen fintech, says UNSW

Forget Moon bases, Elon Musk and missions to Mars, the immediate future of space technology is more down to Earth and destined to be a truly disruptive force to the financial and banking sectors, writes Roland Tellzen

By Jon Watkins

Addressing Sibos 2018’s Discovery Zone, the director of Australia’s University of NSW Canberra Space division, Professor Russell Boyce, explained how space technology was poised to be the next big enabler for financial and banking applications. UNSW’s Canberra Space facility is the leading space research and development and mission capability centre.

While Australia may not be thought of as a major player in the international space industries, the UNSW facility has long boasted of collaboration with such agencies as NASA and the ESO. It has particular expertise in the building and launch of smaller spacecraft, able to operate in swarms and communicate through high bandwidth networks.

“These have on-board artificial intelligence (AI) that is able to take data from the ground and turn it into information that can be beamed direct to the user in real time, or to anywhere in the world in less than a second,” Professor Boyce said.

These systems have been used in conjunction with Australia’s Defence Science Technology Organisation (DSTO) to gather and process data captured by the country’s existing early warning systems.

But, he said, the potential for such systems went way beyond such defence applications.

Referring to the financial sector, Professor Boyce warned: “Disruption is coming in wave after wave after wave and you better be ready for it.” For example, he said, his team was working with Singapore University on the use of quantum-entangled communications in space with direct implications for the financial sectors.

“This is an example of the sort of disruption the financial sector should be aware of, and it certainly is coming,” he said. “Space is an enabler, and it is being coupled with technologies like AI and quantum, to enable financial and banking sectors in disruptive ways.

“If you aren’t aware of these technologies, you are the one that is going to be disrupted.”