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Business School Programs Explore Disruptive Bitcoin Blockchain

Courses assess impact of cryptocurrency's technology

By  Seb Murray

Thu Oct 8 2015

BusinessBecause
The bitcoin blockchain is a buzzword fizzing through businesses everywhere. So it should come as no surprise that the world’s top business schools are beginning to decode the potentially revolutionary digital currency and its underpinning technology.

New York’s Stern School of Business will next month launch a new executive program to explore bitcoin, after first edging the topic into its MBA program last year.

Costing $3,600, Stern’s new course — Digital Currency: Revolution in Money and Payments? — will introduce executives to digital currencies like bitcoin and emerging mobile payment systems.

David Yermack, professor of finance at NYU Stern and a pioneering bitcoin academic, says: “Mobile payment systems and the nature of money are changing very rapidly and any business school student should be aware of this.”

The blockchain has both Silicon Valley and Wall Street chomping at the bit. The record of asset ownership that is bitcoin’s foundation, the blockchain works by sequentially ordering blocks of transactions into a chain.

This has vast potential use for banks and other financial service providers. A report by Santander InnoVentures, the Spanish bank’s venture capital fund for fintech, Anthemis, the advisory firm, and consultancy Oliver Wyman predicts the technology could slash banks’ costs for international payments, trading and compliance by $20 billion by 2022.

“This is may be the most interesting aspect of bitcoin,” says NYU Stern’s David.  

“I think there will be a lot of innovation in this area,” he adds. “I think that many of the major banks may also use blockchain technology to create internal systems for transferring money across borders or between banks.”

Indeed, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America are among 13 banks that recently joined an initiative to develop blockchain technology for the banking sector, R3.

The banks’ excitement around bitcoin is matched by NYU Stern’s rival US schools, such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, which this year began teaching a course — Innovation and Cryptoventures — that tries to assess the potential for bitcoin’s technology to disrupt the way we transact, verify ownership, and construct financial contracts.

“Any simple financial contract can be included in the blockchain,” says Professor Campbell Harvey at Duke Fuqua. “This means that this decentralized technology has the potential to threaten centralized technologies like stock exchanges.”

Sensing the threat, US stock exchange Nasdaq has pledged to use blockchain technology developed by Chain, a start-up, for its new private share trading market.

“They decided to embrace the future rather than take the chance of being left behind in its dust,” says Campbell.

Despite bitcoin scandals, such as the collapse of MtGox, in which the exchange lost $500 million worth of bitcoins, he says that bitcoin has the potential to “fundamentally change the way business is conducted”, adding: “Anyone who works in finance needs to be aware of the potential.”

Duke Fuqua’s program is also focused on bitcoin entrepreneurship. Start-ups are driving up the blockchain’s profile and investment has flooded into the sector.

According to the latest research from Coinbase, in June this year 113 bitcoin start-ups had been backed by venture capitalists, with all-time bitcoin VC investment reaching $832 million.

Top bankers have also joined the blockchain start-up scene, such as former JPMorgan banker Blythe Masters, as well as Duncan Niederauer, former New York Stock Exchange chief executive.

Business schools including Berkeley-Haas, Harvard, and USC Marshall have held large bitcoin events on their campuses. MIT, where some shops accept bitcoin as payment, holds the annual Bitcoin Expo, with 2015’s speakers including Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, and Charlie Lee, who created Litecoin, another digital currency.

Dan Elitzer, an MBA graduate of MIT Sloan School and founder of the MIT Bitcoin Club, believes blockchain technology has the potential to impact the global economy on the same scale of the internet.

“We are still in the early days, but as future leaders of industry, business students need to be alert to how bitcoin could change longstanding assumptions about financial flows, regulation, [and] competitive advantages,” he says. 

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Student

Verified

31/10/2023

On Campus

Supportive atmosphere

The professors at Duke university exhibit exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of their students by ensuring their academic growth and fostering a supportive social atmosphere. Moreover, the entire community is recognized for its amicability and inclusiveness.

Maxwell

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30/03/2023

On Campus

Diversity

The people or the students are without a doubt Duke's greatest asset. While all students are driven to succeed, they are also enthusiastic about a variety of hobbies. You run across a huge lot of diversity. It is the ideal example of a school with well-rounded students and the ideal balance of campus life in a metropolis.

Anabelle

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27/02/2023

On Campus

Happy to school

All I could ever hope for is Duke University. That really epitomizes the "work hard, play hard" philosophy that elite colleges frequently pursue. Even though you'll have a lot of schooling to complete over the week, it's simple to keep focused because all of your friends are putting in similar amounts of effort. Many events taking place on and around campus on the weekends provide a great way to unwind. The combination of demanding academics and traditional college fun strikes the perfect balance.

Monica

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27/02/2023

On Campus

Good schooling

Living, eating, learning, and developing who you want to be as an adult are all fantastic at Duke. I participated in student athletics, and I couldn't have asked for a better interaction with the faculty and other students. I appreciate all of the help I get from the Duke community more than anything. Furthermore, the teachers take the time to get to know you, and the lectures are diverse and demanding (if you do the same). I'd give it a 10 out of 10.

Aline

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26/11/2022

On Campus

Beautiful School, Nice Classes

DU remains one the greatest and best universities that I have ever stepped in. The school is beautiful and neat. The classes are spacious and also very nice. I enjoyed attending my Lectures in those lecture halls. I also loved the Lecturers because of the good work they did. The university also has very good dorms that are given to students on first come first serve basis and they are affordable

Student

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29/06/2022

Blended

Amazing experience

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Global Health with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. I was able to grow as a student, scientist, and global health advocate with the help of my friends, professors, and other mentors I met along the way. A lot to learn if you look and ask, a great place to learn for those who want to learn.

Student

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29/06/2022

Blended

whirlwind of growth and change

An amazing 2 years, with covid and everything else happening Duke has been a place of growth for me. The courses , classes were one of a kind, online and on campus. But the valuable lessons learned in the classes are irreplicable. The students are amazing here, so much diversity , I had no problem fitting in. The teachers are down right brilliant and so helpful. Don't be afraid to ask them anything. Graduated with my MBA with Duke and now my future awaits.

Student

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29/06/2022

On Campus

One of the best for Business students

Graduated with an MBA. The classes were very insightful and engaging. The staff are very easy to deal with. The teachers and students, are truly amazing people. Grateful to all the people I've met along the way at Duke. I've learnt a great deal that will help me in my future endeavors. The campus itself is a marvel, it is beautiful.

Student

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16/06/2022

On Campus

The university campus is awesome

I graduated with a masters degree in Religious Studies from Duke University. One thing I really liked about the university is its huge campus. It is spread in a large area with a lot of greenery and also have the facilities of reading rooms for single person also. My department building was very well taken care of. The library is immensely populated with books for all your needs. The faculty is very nice to students. The classes are equipped with latest technology to cater the needs of students. The University also provides room rentals for international students. They are very well maintained and priority is given to the International students for a comfortable stay there. There are weekly events conducted by the University as well as Student clubs for the entertainment of students. Anybody can take part in them and show their talents. I enjoyed my degree and I graduated in 2021 and was very happy that I had graduated from a reputed University.

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