Advances in Automation and Technology
Advances in computing, automation, and communication have shifted focus from traditional methods to the use of technology in payments, clearing, trading, and regulatory compliance. This has led to Financial technology (often referred to as Fintech) programs taking center stage in colleges as schools attempt to play an integral part in the fintech revolution by training students for jobs in today’s fast-growing financial technology industry.
These courses are designed to enable students to advance their knowledge in critical aspects of technology such as machine learning, data analytics, and blockchain technology, among others. FinTech programs aim to improve college financial literacy by making it possible for students to gain an understanding of various technologies and obtain practical experience working with them.
What is Financial Technology?
Financial Technology essentially refers to any technological invention in financial services. Individuals who are involved in Financial Technology typically develop new technologies to disrupt traditional financial markets.
These include several innovations that facilitate online transactions, such as cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum, mobile banking applications like Venmo, and online payment solutions such as PayPal and Skrill.
Fintech also comprises tech-based financial services such as crowdfunding systems, automated financial planning, peer-to-peer lending marketplaces, as well as robo wealth managers such as Betterment.
The use of digital technology is fast becoming the norm, leading to a revolution that is rapidly transforming the financial industry. This has led to calls by students for financial technology courses to be introduced in colleges. This, they believe, will enable them to understand the complexity of the payment infrastructure and be acquainted with critical payment instruments and how they function, among others.
A good example of students’ interest in innovation can be seen in the case of New York University (NYU) where the fintech undergraduate course attracted enrollment from twice as many students as expected.
Students demand, coupled with the far-reaching disruption in the financial industry has the schools themselves making conscientious efforts to teach students how to master financial technology.
Institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, Columbia University’s business school, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, etc. have all adopted fintech programs in their curriculum.
Fintech in Colleges: Effectiveness and Challenges
So far, fintech courses have proven to be highly effective as colleges scramble to bring together leading academics to educate students on the impact of technology on business, finance, and society. Various innovative research has been conducted and new courses introduced, all in a bid to develop the next generation of fintech experts and re-educate students in new financial technologies.
In spite of the opportunities, however, schools and students face challenges in their attempt to venture into this new area of research. Students who are interested in specializing in fintech may be limited by the lack of textbooks and other teaching materials on the subject. Similarly, most professors have limited knowledge of fintech.
Nonetheless, scholars hope to construct school curriculum and develop real-life cases that will enable students to become knowledgeable enough to make inventions of their own. For now, it looks like fintech finally has its place in academia, which makes for exciting times ahead.