Our Vision


The UCT Financial Innovation Lab is a new research hub for fintech in Africa. We bring together leading experts from academia, innovative entrepreneurs, and senior government officials to unlock the full potential of financial innovations for all in our society. Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are revolutionizing the financial system with huge potential to deepen financial inclusion, foster competition, and trigger innovation. Fintech is a constantly innovating field that is disrupting traditional business models in the financial services sector. With the Financial Innovation Lab, UCT will be at the absolute forefront of this development and our goal is to be the leading research institution for fintech in Africa.


About Us


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Co-Pierre Georg (Director)

Co-Pierre is a Senior Lecturer at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management at University of Cape Town and a Policy Associate at Economic Research Southern Africa. Co-Pierre is a frequent traveller and held visiting positions at Oxford, Princeton, and Columbia University. He has been a consultant for several central banks.


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Allan Davids (PhD Student)

Allan Davids is a PhD student at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management at the University of Cape Town since October 2016. He works on housing markets, urban economics and real estate finance. He is particularly interested in blockchain applications to property ownership. Allan also has industry experience as a data analyst, working with Big Data.

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Qobolwakhe Dube (PhD Student)

Qobolwakhe Dube is a PhD student at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management at University of Cape Town since January 2017. He works on market microstructure, focusing on the impact of FinTech in the banking industry.


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Nolwazi Hlophe (PhD Student)

Nolwazi is a Swazi PhD student in Economics with the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management at the University of Cape Town. She obtained an MCom in Economics from the University of Pretoria in 2016 and works at the Central Bank of Swaziland in the Financial Stability Unit. Nolwazi's CV.

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Chernay Johnson (PhD Student)

Chernay is a PhD student at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management of the University of Cape Town since February 2017. Chernay has previously worked as an Economist in the Macroeconomic Modelling and Forecasting Unit of the South African Reserve Bank, and the EEMEA Economics Research team of Credit Suisse. Chernay's research interests include applied topics in financial economics and she is currently focusing on the market quality of South African equity and derivative markets.


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Daniel Opolot (Postdoctoral Researcher)

Daniel completed a PhD in economics from Maastricht University in 2016 with a dissertation focusing on evolutionary game theory, information economics and networks. His ongoing projects and research interests include applications of methods of evolutionary game theory and learning dynamics to financial markets, and to scientific progress.

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Christian Catalini (Research Associate)

Christian Catalini is the Theodore T. Miller Career Development Professor at MIT, and Assistant Professor of Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management, MIT Sloan School of Management. Christian's main areas of interest are the economics of entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific productivity. His research focuses on crowdfunding and online entrepreneurial finance, blockchain technology, digital currencies, how proximity affects the recombination of ideas, the adoption of technology standards, science and technology interactions. Christian is one of the principal investigators of the MIT Digital Currencies Research Study, which gave access to all MIT undergraduate students to a digital currency in the Fall of 2014. He is also involved in the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the recently launched Digital Currency Initiative.

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Farzam Ehsani (Research Associate)

Several years ago, Farzam set out to deepen his knowledge about our fragile global financial system to understand what can be changed so that it can better serve humanity. Over the last few years, this journey has taken Farzam through RMB’s Global Markets, Group Treasury, Investment Banking, and Private Equity divisions as part of RMB's Class Of programme. He recently helped establish the Foundery, RMB’s FinTech unit, where he is currently leading RMB’s Blockchain Initiative. Farzam previously worked at McKinsey   Company in Johannesburg, Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco, the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa and the United Nations in Nairobi. He studied economics at the University of California – Berkeley.

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Andrei Kirilenko (Research Associate)

Professor Andrei Kirilenko is the Director of the Centre for Global Finance and Technology at the Imperial College Business School. Prior to joining Imperial in August 2015, he was a Professor of the Practice of Finance at MIT Sloan and Co-Director of the MIT Center for Finance and Policy. Before MIT Sloan, Professor Kirilenko served as chief economist of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) between December 2010 and December 2012. In 2010, Kirilenko was the recipient of the CFTC Chairman's Award for Excellence (highest honor). Professor Kirilenko's scholarly work focuses on the intersection of finance, technology and regulation. His work has appeared in a number of peer refereed journals and received multiple best-paper awards. Kirilenko received his PhD in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, where he specialized in Finance.

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Paul Kohlhaas (Research Associate)

Paul is a blockchain architect and entrepreneur determined to build a healthier global economy with blockchain technology. With previous experience in consulting and fundraising, he co-founded blockchain consulting firm Linum Labs. Paul bridges the divide between the international blockchain community and corporate institutions, forges business relationships and builds innovation communities, hosting the Ethereum Meetups in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Dubai. He focuses on developer training and blockchain for social good, having worked on projects with UNICEF, Barclays, KPMG and the Ethereum Foundation. Paul studied International Affairs and Economics at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland and the University of Cape Town.


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Peter Sarlin (Research Associate)

Peter is an Associate Professor of Economics at Hanken School of Economics (Helsinki, Finland), and Director of RiskLab Finland at Arcada. He is an organizer of Europe's 1st Fintech Master's program. He is a board member of the IEEE Analytics and Risk Technical Committee and the IEEE Computational Finance and Economics Technical Committee. He has been a Financial Stability Expert and external consultant among others with the European Central Bank, Bank of Finland, Deutsche Bundesbank, De Nederlandsche Bank and Bank of Indonesia. He is a founder of Infolytika Ventures and Almax Analytics. Peter’s book Mapping Financial Stability was published by Springer in May 2014 and his current research interests include network analytics, machine learning, natural-language processing and visual analytics.

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Paolo Tasca (Research Associate)

Paolo Tasca is a FinTech economist specialising in P2P Financial Systems. An advisor for different international organisations including the EU Parliament on blockchain technologies, Paolo recently joined the University College London as Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies. Paolo did his PhD studies in Business between Ca’ Foscari Venice and ETH, Zürich. He currently is a Research Fellow at CFS, Goethe University, a Research Associate at the Systemic Risk Centre of the London School of Economics, a Research Associate of the Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire Internet et Société and Senior Advisor of the Beihang Blockchain & Digital Society Laboratory in Beijing.


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Boris Vallée (Research Associate)

Boris Vallée is an assistant professor in the Finance Unit of Harvard Business School. His research traces the motives behind and the effects of financial innovation in recent decades. He pursues this line of inquiry through empirical studies of corporate finance, household finance, public finance, and financial institutions, developing novel data sets and measures. He has published in leading finance and economics jouanls and his work has been cited by Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Boris holds a Ph.D. in finance and a M.Sc. in management, both from HEC Paris, and is a CFA Charterholder. Before beginning his doctoral studies, he was an investment banker at Deutsche Bank in London.

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Stuart Van Der Veen (Research Associate)

Stuart is the Nedbank CIB disruption lead with the responsibility and global mandate to partner with and fund fintech startups and incumbents that have strategic alignment with Nedbank clusters or CIB business units. Stuart works with the world’s best startups as a Google Launchpad, Plug and Play, and Startupbootcamp fintech mentor. Stuart is the founder and previous managing director of Paper Plane Ventures, an advisory and venture capital firm specialising in rapidly advancing technology. Stuart is a Singularity University and University of Cape Town alumnus, trained with Deloitte, is a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, was a 2016 top 35-under-35 CA(SA) and a 2016 South African Professional Services Awards top three finalist for the young professional of the year.