World-First Online FinTech Course Provides Business Education In Innovation

Understanding fintech's economic role is vital for people building careers in banking and alternative finance.

Distance learning specialist the Open University has launched a world first course on financial technology — fintech — that will be taught entirely online.

Developed with Innovate Finance, the membership association that represents UK fintech, FinTech 101: Understanding Financial Technologies, examines the origins of fintech and its role in transforming the financial services landscape since the economic crash of 2008.

FinTech 101 is also the latest example of the explosion of online learning in business subjects. Digital platforms such as the OU’s and Mooc — massive open online course — developers like Coursera, FutureLearn and Udacity are helping shape a new era of management education.

The 50-hour program is focused on the technologies making up the rapidly-growing sector and on how students can “democratize finance”. Accenture research published in June showed US fintech investment tripled last year to nearly $10 billion. Silicon Valley Bank values the UK fintech industry at £20 billion.

The curriculum was shaped with financial institutions including Mastercard and Lloyds Bank and with start-ups including The Real Asset Company, Percentile and Ratesetter, the British peer-to-peer lender.

Liz Moody, senior executive education lecturer at the OU, said: “Fintech is changing rapidly with new sub-sectors emerging all the time, drawing in new names, and organizations taking a customer-centric view of financial services.”

She added that the new program is designed for people working in or interested in innovating in the sector by creating products and access to services supported by technology.

Innovate Finance, whose members include IBM and Visa, said that understanding fintech and the role it plays in the economy is vital for people seeking to build a future career in banking and alternative finance. “The vast and dynamic fintech landscape must be understood to fully appreciate its impact on economies and societies,” said Lawrence Wintermeyer, chief executive of Innovate Finance.

Already elite business schools are sending their students into the nascent market. Students are showing an interest in digital innovation, “and a growth area over the past year has been the fintech sector”, said Sarah Juillet, director of postgraduate careers at London’s Cass Business School.

Innovate Finance has a partnership with Imperial College Business School, also based in London. Mark Davies, Imperial College employer relations manager, said: “There has been a very recent increase in interest amongst MBA students in fintech.”

London fintech successes include Transferwise, founded by an INSEAD MBA and valued at $1 billion; WorldRemit, incubated at London Business School and valued at $500 million; and Nutmeg, founded by Stanford GSB graduate Nick Hungerford, which in June raised $32 million in venture capital.

In New York, the city which accounted for 21% of global fintech investment last year, Columbia Business School is seeing students flock to the intersection of finance and technology, said Regina Resnick, associate dean at the Career Management Center.

Business schools are increasingly adopting digital programs or partnering with online course providers to keep pace with innovation in education, while traditional campus degrees such as the MBA have lost some of their earlier appeal.

William Lamb, dean of the graduate school at Babson College, said: “Any format that addresses students’ need for flexibility will be crucial in the future.”

For many education providers there is a sense that they must adapt or die.

“Business schools need to adapt to the changing needs of sponsoring organizations and a world of work that requires more flexibility,” said Dr Richard McBain, head of post-experience postgraduate programs at Henley Business School.

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