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Ant Group teams with NTU to advance privacy-preserving technologies

The Chinese fintech giant is partnering with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University on a cryptographic protocol that ensures the privacy of transacting parties

Chinese fintech giant Ant Group has teamed up with Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to advance privacy-preserving technologies in a year-long research collaboration.

For a start, they will focus on private set intersection (PSI), a cryptographic protocol that allows parties to compute the intersection of their private datasets without revealing anything beyond the intersection, to ensure the privacy of transacting parties.

Through the collaboration, the researchers, who hail from NTU’s Strategic Centre for Research in Privacy-Preserving Technologies and Systems, and Ant Group’s research and development teams, hope to increase the practical capability and security of PSI, optimise its efficiency, and develop applications for real-world use cases.

“We are excited to join hands with NTU Singapore to promote research into privacy-preserving computing technologies, including PSI, and support technical innovations in Singapore,” said Jerry Yin, chief technology officer of international business at Ant Group.

“We believe that this university-industry collaborated research will accelerate the development of privacy-preserving computing and pave the way for new applications to unlock greater value in the digitalisation of industry collaboration,” he added.

Ant Group has been active in driving advances in privacy-preserving computing in recent years. Citing industry sources, the company claimed to have topped the list of patent applications for privacy-preserving technologies in 2022, with 1,152 filed patent applications.

In July 2022, Ant Group open-sourced its privacy-preserving computation framework, making privacy-preserving technologies more accessible to global developers in a bid to drive adoption.

Since its launch in 2016, the framework has integrated privacy-preserving technologies, such as multi-party secure computation, federated learning, homomorphic encryption, differential privacy, zero-knowledge proof and trusted execution environment. It has been implemented in multiple use cases, including healthcare, insurance and risk management.

Ant Group’s partnership with NTU follows its recent efforts to grow its footprint in Singapore. In May 2023, it announced that its Alipay+ global platform for cross-border mobile payments and digital marketing has been integrated into SGQR, the city-state’s unified payment quick response (QR) code system that supports multiple QR payment options.

Alipay+ currently supports six partner e-wallets in Singapore, including Alipay from mainland China, AlipayHK from Hong Kong, Touch ‘n Go eWallet from Malaysia, GCash from the Philippines, TrueMoney from Thailand, and Kakao Pay from South Korea. Alipay, one of Alipay+’s e-wallet partners, has been integrated into SGQR since 2019.

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