Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

Blockchain Buzz Spurs Launch Of Four FinTech MBA Programs In Citi, KPMG Tie-Ups

Bitcoin's underlying technology to be a core focus

Wed Feb 17 2016

A duo of the UK’s top business schools will launch fintech courses focused on bitcoin’s blockchain after striking research and funding deals with Citigroup, KPMG and CME Group.

Citi has funded the new Centre for Global Finance and Technology at London’s Imperial College Business School, which is exploring fintech content and research and is identifying academics to serve as faculty on the new courses and modules.

“I will be looking actively with my colleagues to develop courses and modules in that space,” said Professor Andrei Kirilenko, director of the Center, who is the former chief economist of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

He said that there is an effort among business schools to create new courses and research on the impact of technology on the financial services sector. Last week both MIT Sloan and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business told BusinessBecause they were planning to launch new fintech programs for MBA students.

“Markets and institutions have become automated. They are server farms,” he said, adding that “it all now runs on lines of code”.

Cambridge University’s Judge Business School meanwhile will launch three to four new courses focused on fintech over the next few years.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from mainstream financial industries and from students who want to work at these financial technology companies,” said finance professor Raghu Rau, a director for the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The first fintech course will be launched “probably sometime later this year,” he said.

Demand among MBA students for careers in the nascent fintech sector is surging, according to Regina Resnick, associate dean for careers at Columbia. “There are a number of Columbia Business School students interested in the intersection of finance and technology,” she said.

Judge’s research has explored the blockchain, the record of asset ownership that underpins bitcoin, which has the world’s biggest banks such as Goldman Sachs and payments leaders like Visa trying to adopt it to potentially cut costs and increase profits. “The blockchain is eating away at them,” Raghu said.

It follows a lead set by US business schools Duke Fuqua and NYU Stern, which have pioneered research and education into bitcoin and its underlying technology.

Judge recently teamed up with KPMG and the CME Group Foundation on research that found the UK online alternative finance market reached to £3.2 billion in 2015.

“It’s clear the market has come of age as an integral part of the lending landscape,” said Warren Mead, global co-lead of fintech at KPMG.

He added: “Incumbents are playing catch up with their own digital investment, and are closing in on the disrupters’ lead.” Bank of America, Citi, Goldman, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo have poured investment into 30 fintech start-ups since 2009, according to CB Insights.

The banks’ fintech focus comes as a number of start-ups begin to bite at the fringes of their business models, such as TransferWise, FundingCircle and Nutmeg. “Without a shadow of a doubt, new innovative players like WorldRemit are shaking up the traditional financial services sector,” said Ismail Ahmed, CEO of WorldRemit, a money transfer business valued at $500 million, and London Business School MBA.

MBA students are increasingly keen to work at such start-ups and in the wider fintech space, said Sarah Juillet, director professional development at Cass Business School — one reason for the growth in the number of fintech courses launched by business schools.

“There are a lot of start-ups using technology in the finance industry looking for MBAs,” said Sue Thorn, director of Warwick Business School CareersPlus, “and these days, MBAs are interested in joining start-ups.”

Imperial’s Andrei agreed that career opportunities are growing in the fintech space.

But he added that the new generational of post-crisis financial services leaders will come from engineering backgrounds. “They will not be traders or investment bankers,” he said.