Financial technology has grown in significance in recent times. More U.S universities have announced that they will be teaching students to become masters of financial technology, thanks to students’ demands for training in fintech Courses. The big challenge that these institutions are facing is the fact that the area of fintech is relatively new and not well defined. This makes it difficult to develop courses.
Stanford University, located in San Francisco, a leading Fintech hub in the world and Georgetown University will start offering fintech courses to their business students starting this fall. On its part, the New York University(NYU), which began offering specialized fintech training last year, will launch a new fintech undergraduate course.
These entrants join the small number of universities that has been offering fintech courses for some years now. They are:
- University of Pennsylvania-Wharton School
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT)-Sloan School of Management
- Columbia University-Business School
The explosion in financial technology in recent years coupled with the advent of the smartphone has completely transformed how business is done. Fintech startups have successfully emerged in the payments, wealth management, mobile and internet banking, crowdfunding and predictive analytics among other sectors. Most of these startups begin in the developed countries. For instance, we have SoFi, a digital loan platform which began in San Francisco, United States; Betterment, a robotic wealth management firm which began in New York and Funding Circle based in London, U.K. This means that the impact of fintech is most felt in these countries, where it has almost become part of everyday life. It is no wonder then that U.S. business students are demanding to be taught fintech courses.
Reena Aggarwal is the director of Georgetown Centre for Financial Markets Policy. She has compared the current demand for innovation related courses among students to what used to happen with investment banking and trade related courses some ten years ago. She gives an example of NYU whose fintech course attracted twice the expected number of students.
The diversity of fintech makes it difficult to construct a syllabus. Secondly, the field is relatively new with no professors or textbooks to rely on. According to Angela Lee, the chief innovation officer at the Columbia Business School, what constitutes fintech has not been defined conclusively. That is why some people will use the term in reference to cryptocurrencies and bitcoin while others will be referring to the technology used by JP Morgan in trading. Some people just use it without really knowing what it means.
Instead of developing the traditional type syllabus, universities have taken a different approach in teaching fintech. They focus on helping students develop innovative business ideas. For example, MIT has taught a course on blockchain. On its part, Stanford’s course will focus on training students on the development of affordable financial solutions for disadvantaged consumers.
Whether a graduate will start their own firm or work for the traditional financial institutions, a fintech course will have a positive impact on their career. Either way, the student is likely to interact with fintech in the course of work.