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10 B-School Experts On How Bitcoin's Blockchain Will Transform Financial Services

The technology's advocates are juiced up about its disruptive potential

Wed Mar 23 2016

BusinessBecause
If you’re anything like business school academics, you’ll be juiced up about fintech.

The topic has surged through the world’s top schools, from Harvard to Stanford, such is its disruptive potential to transform an industry that one-third of MBAs will enter.

In financial services, the blockchain rules as king of the hype. The distributed ledger technology, which emerged with the litigious digital currency bitcoin, has Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse rushing to explore its potential uses.

We’ve selected 10 b-school experts to offer up their opinions on how the blockchain could revolutionize finance.

Campbell Harvey — Duke Fuqua

The blockchain’s pioneers are desperately scrambling to hire people who understand the nascent space — that’s according to Campbell Harvey, professor of finance at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

“They want to have a so-called blockchain tsar at their firm — someone who can coordinate a multi-disciplinary effort, so their firm comes out on the winning side rather than the losing side of blockchain disruption,” says the pioneering blockchain academic.


Marc Hamud — USC Marshall 

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The blockchain and other cryptocurrencies are breaking into the curriculum at USC Marshall School of Business, says Marc Hamud, senior vice president at GE Capital, who lectures at USC Marshall.

Traditionally most business school finance courses focus on topics like financial statement analysis, valuations, and M&A. But not at USC Marshall. “Fintech is coming at traditional banking from a new perspective and as such our course is focusing more on new business models and the potential those models have to disrupt the status quo,” he says.


Andrei Kirilenko — Imperial College 

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Blockchain is a buzzword, admits Andrei Kirilenko, former chief economist with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and director of the Centre for Global Finance and Technology at Imperial College Business School.

However, the whirl of interest is spurring action among mainstream financial services firms. “As more people do, there are more possibilities,” Andrei says.

“There is tremendous potential in this tech....Maybe related to clearing or issuance of securities, or a solution related to a regulatory outcome,” he adds.


David Yermack — NYU Stern 

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“The potential appears to be enormous. Most of the large banks and other financial record-keeping institutions are looking closely at the technology,” says David Yermack, chair of NYU Stern’s finance department. “It may turn out to be as important as the advent of double-entry bookkeeping in the Renaissance.”

Blockchain tech emerged with the controversial digital currency bitcoin but has evolved into a standalone prize. “Bitcoin is still not widely used, and its real significance comes from having proven the usefulness of its underlying technology,” says David.


James Angel — Georgetown McDonough 

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“The beauty of bitcoin is the blockchain — an open public ledger that creates a means of verifying transactions and ownership at very low cost,” agrees James Angel, professor of finance at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

The ease of entry will keep processing costs down to a competitive level; blockchain is an open-architecture network with easy entry and no single point of failure.

James goes as far as to say the US Fed should issue “bit-dollars” that can be used to make payments using bitcoin tech. “This would provide all the benefits of blockchain technology without the hassles of an unstable medium of exchange.”


Raghu Rau — Cambridge Judge

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Raghu Rau, professor of finance at Cambridge Judge Business School, and a director of the Centre for Alternative Finance, says blockchain is one of the key topics being explored.

He says it’s of interest to a wide range of financial services players, such as payments companies like Visa. “Because the blockchain is eating away at them,” he says.

“There’s a lot of interest, especially from executives, in this whole area [fintech],” Raghu adds. “We’re seeing a lot of interest from mainstream financial industries and from students who want to work at these financial technology companies.”


Adair Morse — Berkeley Haas 

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Such is enthusiasm for fintech at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, that the school introduced a new course for MBAs on the topic in 2016. “It covers areas such as payments and bitcoin,” says Adair Morse, assistant professor of finance.

“A large number of students come here because they are interested in working at fintech start-ups in the Bay Area,” she says — Haas is in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Fintech is catching the eye of large banks, Adair adds. “The role of tech in banking is changing the landscape, and our education must change as well.”


Antoinette Schoar  — MIT Sloan 

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And MBA students are increasingly founding fintech start-ups, believes Antoinette Schoar, professor of entrepreneurial finance at MIT Sloan School of Management. These companies range from peer-to-peer lenders to “roboadvisors” using algorithms to beat financial markets. 

But at MIT Sloan, students also explore blockchain in a specially designed course. The school is uniquely positioned to offer this — MIT has a strong science and technology background. “I imagine other schools with follow us. Professors have contacted me,” Antoinette says.


Paris de l’Etraz — IE Business School 

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Paris de l’Etraz, managing director of IE Business School’s Venture Lab, anticipates disruption. “The finance world is just starting to get disrupted. Technologies like blockchain are bound to change the way we do business in the coming years,” he says.

IE has teamed up with Santander InnoVentures, the venture capital arm of the Spanish bank, to help fintech entrepreneurs raise funding. “We will attract and cultivate leading fintech startups on both a global and local level,” says Paris.

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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