Press release

China’s Digital Bank WeBank Announces Partnerships with Quebec-based Mila and Tencent at NuerIPS 2019

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China’s largest digital bank WeBank announced two partnerships during top AI conference NuerIPS——with leading cloud computing platform Tencent Cloud and the world’s top deep learning research facility Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute headed by A.M. Turing Award Winner Yoshua Bengio. The partnerships seek to protect data privacy while enabling cross-organization collaborations in AI and fintech, powered by the new federated learning (FL) technology.

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China's largest digital bank WeBank announced two partnerships during top AI conference NuerIPS. (Photo: Business Wire)

China’s largest digital bank WeBank announced two partnerships during top AI conference NuerIPS. (Photo: Business Wire)

Currently, data silos and privacy protection are two big challenges for AI. As an encrypted distributed machine learning framework, FL can tackle both problems by allowing different parties to build models collaboratively without the need to reveal their data. The method helps to advance AI modeling while protecting data and privacy.

Professor Yoshua Bengio, founder of Mila and one of the “three musketeers of deep learning”, said at the signing ceremony that “In terms of better training neural networks, federated learning is at the forefront of research and will have an important impact on business. ”

Professor Qiang Yang, WeBank’s chief AI officer, explained that large-scale AI application relies on big data, which is scattered across many different organizations. Direct data merging will violate privacy regulations. FL is a compliance method strictly following laws and regulations, and is now used in fintech, healthcare, smart city, and other industrial applications.

Signing partners WeBank and Tencent Cloud had established a joint lab dedicated to FL and fintech back in March. The two parties will work together to develop in AI areas, on top of setting industry standards and making commercial applications.

To reduce the use threshold of federated learning and add in contributors, WeBank launched the world’s first industry FL open-source framework Federated AI Technology Enabler (FATE) in February 2019. This grants a ready-to-use FL framework tool to any companies wishing to work together. Partner Tencent Cloud and companies including Huawei, JD.com and other tech giants have all joined the ecosystem.

To support R&D, WeBank also organized an FL workshop with top AI R&D organizations including Google and Carnegie Mellon University at NuerIPS 2019. The company is also leading international IEEE standards on the technology.

Founded in 2014, WeBank is the world’s leading digital bank operating solely online, now serving over 170 million individual customers and over 500,000 small and micro-sized enterprises.