Physical to digital: How a stolen wallet led her to the FinTech Industry

19 January 2022 — Charmaine Ng had planned for her end-of-year treat to be a leisurely trip in Europe. What she had not counted on was an encounter with a pickpocket. Losing her belongings was bad. Having her stolen credit card used to make fraudulent purchases was worse. Disputing those transactions was, in a word, difficult.

All that unpleasantness triggered Charmaine’s curiosity. An engineer by training, she began to dig into financial technology literature to understand the reasons behind her experience. The areas of payments and fraud prevention were especially of interest to her. As she slowly unravelled the reasons behind the difficulties in disputing her credit card charges, she learned that the field of financial technology was an up-and-coming industry—one that she now wanted to be a part of.

Getting (Re)Started
Having spent her career working for different government statutory boards, Charmaine realised that she did not have sufficient domain knowledge or technical skills to jump into the financial technology space. She began looking for a structured graduate-level programme to help her prepare for the industry and its challenges. She found her fit at the National University of Singapore (NUS); the programme that would be her bridge was the Master of Science in Digital Financial Technology (MSc DFinTech).

Charmaine Ng

Charmaine Ng, Student in Master of Science in Digital Financial Technology programme

“The curriculum is comprehensively built,” she shared when asked why she chose to apply for the MSc DFinTech. “It covers both strategic thinking for FinTech businesses, and technical skills such machine learning and full-stack development. The strategic thinking will be helpful for policy-planning/creating start-up businesses while the technical skills would be useful for analytics/software/blockchain development works. These translate over well to applicable expertise within the industry.”

As she prepares to start her classes in 2022, she declared: “I am looking forward to studying machine learning applications for financial applications, and blockchain development. There are finance classes as well as that will help to boost my financial literacy in managing businesses.”

Being Awarded a Scholarship
Charmaine’s decision to join the MSc DFinTech programme would commit her to one-and-a-half years of full-time study, during which she would not be drawing an income. Tuition fees would only be one part of her financial obligations, and she worried about making ends meet.

Thankfully, she came across the Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship, offered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). The scholarship, set up to groom aspiring tech and media talent, covers the tuition fees for a postgraduate programme and offers an allowance to support awardees financially while they undertake their studies. In addition, the scholarship also provides funding support for courses and certifications beyond the school curriculum to deepen her skillsets of interest, as well as networking opportunities and mentorships. Not being bound by financial burdens is a tremendous boon in Charmaine’s eyes.

She is itching to start her journey in the FinTech industry. Time is of essence to her since an increasing number of digital financial technology companies are set up at this moment. She elaborates: “Being able to join these companies at the growth stage would mean that I would have a massive learning opportunity, which would be valuable in the future if I am to create my own start-up.”

Clearly, she has already plotted out a road map for her career in financial technology. To Charmaine’s advantage, the SG:D Scholarship allows her to complete her bond at any company operating locally in a tech role. This is especially important for her, as it broadens the range of companies that she can join when she graduates, from innovative start-ups to established organisations.

Upon her graduation in 2023, Charmaine’s goal is to develop scalable digital solutions that solves pain points in people’s daily lives. This has served as her passion and her source of satisfaction. With the advantage she received through the SG:D Scholarship, she is confident she will have the opportunity to make an impact in the financial technology industry.

This article was written in Partnership with IMDA.

For more information on the NUS MSc in DFinTech, click here.

Learn how the SG:D Scholarship can help accelerate your tech or media career here.

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  • Physical to digital: How a stolen wallet led her to the FinTech Industry
28 January 2022