WeBank Appoints Yang Qiang as Chief AI Officer, Launches Guangdong’s First AI Fintech Lab

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Tencent-backed online lender WeBank (微众银行) is stepping up its artificial intelligence (AI) development efforts with the appointment of a specialist AI executive and the creation of a new research facility in Guangdong province.

WeBank has just appointed Yang Qiang (杨强), an AI expert from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), as its Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO) according to a report from Securities Times.

Yang is Chair Professor, Department Head of Computer Science Engineering and University New Bright Professor of Engineering and Chair Professor at HKUST.

The 55-year old originally hails from Beijing and obtained his doctorate degree in computer science from the University of Maryland in 1989.

Yang was made a fellow of the Palo Alto-headquartered Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) in 2013 and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 2017.

On 5 August WeBank also teamed up with Peng Cheng Laboratory (鹏城实验室) to open the Peng Cheng Laboratory -WeBank AI Finance Joint Laboratory (鹏城实验室-微众银行‘AI金融联合实验室’) at WeChat’s headquarters in Shenzhen.

Yang Qiang has been appointed chair of the AI Finance Joint Laboratory, and is responsible for overseeing its daily operations.

According to Yang the AI Joint Lab will focus on research in the area of “AI + Finance,” focusing in particular on federated transfer learning for model ecologies, interactive robot technologies for financial services, and targeted AI decision-making.

WeBank reportedly uses AI technology to respond to 98% of customer inquiries on a 24-7 basis, achieving a satisfaction rate on par with that for human customer service staff.

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