It’s not always easy to predict technological revolutions. While those in the know may not be surprised that fintech has changed the financial services industry seemingly overnight, there are plenty of individuals and organizations that want to learn more.
For instance, at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, students are just now gaining access to courses on fintech. These courses have caught on just as rapidly as fintech products have. Last year, when the courses were first introduced, 100 students enrolled. In their second year, these classes have attracted 140 students.
Other schools, including Stanford, Georgetown University, and New York University, have also begun to plan or offer fintech courses.
Understandably, it may take some time before educators are able to develop a truly robust curriculum on this subject. As students at Penn have already discovered, it’s not common to see business schools offering classes that can be considered hybrids of business courses and technology courses. Professors may need to coordinate with specialists outside of their fields to ensure they’re covering all the essential information.
As these types of classes grow in popularity, it’s important that educators cover the following key points. While they don’t represent the full range of topics a fintech program could address, teaching these subjects will help students use their educations to join this thriving industry.
One of the key barriers preventing entrepreneurs from creating successful fintech companies is simple, but difficult to overcome: lack of knowledge regarding financial regulations.
That’s still the primary advantage that traditional financial institutions have over fintech. Fintech startups may have a reputation for leveraging the latest technology more effectively than banks do, but they may struggle with navigating the industry’s complicated regulatory waters.
Entrepreneurs can partner with traditional financial institutions to take advantage of their expertise and experience. However, that may not be possible if a startup fails to find a bank or investment firm willing to join forces.
That’s why it’s important for anyone joining the industry to have some degree of familiarity with the regulations they’ll encounter as they grow their businesses. Schools already addressing these topics may want to encourage their students to consider careers in fintech.
The Latest Technologies
Technology is changing rapidly. For instance, the rise of innovations like augmented reality (AR) may soon have a dramatic impact on how we interface with our mobile devices.
The success of fintech companies is often linked to their use of the newest technologies. Instead of inventing new financial services, they improve upon existing ones, using technology to offer customers unparalleled convenience.
Thus, students eager to start their own fintech companies shouldn’t just be familiar with the technologies currently available. They should also have some understanding of the features future technological advancements will make possible. This might not seem like the kind of topic a business school would normally cover, but it’s necessary for a comprehensive fintech curricula.
Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain
Although some people may see cryptocurrencies as nothing more than a fad, there’s a very good chance the underlying blockchain technology will soon be put to much greater use by the general public.
For example, some startups are already creating app stores that allow users to make in-app purchases with cryptocurrency. This means that customers who don’t have, or prefer not to use, credit or debit cards can use products that were, up until recently, unavailable to them. Additionally, blockchain technology will have other potential fintech applications.
That’s why it’s a good idea for anyone developing a fintech product to at least have a basic understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. While they may not choose to implement them, having that knowledge ensures they have the opportunity to do so if they decide it’s the right choice for their startups.
Fintech offers many benefits that traditional financial institutions don’t. Expanding access to financial services is one of them. Fintech offers underbanked and unbanked people the opportunity to acquire capital, make investments, save money, start businesses, and more. Before these types of fintech services existed, some people were unable to take advantage of many different financial opportunities. That’s a major reason fintech is especially popular in areas of the world where people have limited access to banks.
A business school’s fintech program could teach students about these markets. Fintech companies can still thrive without an underbanked or unbanked customer base. However, startups that offer essential services to people who previously may not have had access to them may benefit from limited competition.
Again, these points certainly don’t cover all the topics that fintech courses could address, but they do represent information students might find useful. There are many talented young people in the world right now who are ready to join the fintech revolution. With the right education, they’ll be successful when they do.