Georgia’s Robinson College of Business has opened a fintech lab spanning data analytics and finance — the latest example of the fintech frenzy at top US business schools.
Robinson’s lab will provide an applied, experiential environment in which students, faculty and corporate partners can experiment with the technologies transforming financial services, insurance and real estate.
Data analytics, machine learning and blockchain technology will be important components of the lab. Students will explore how these tools can help develop smart contracts, support the study algorithmic trading, and help with credit risk modelling and lending decisions.
In initial projects, lab users will work with stock market, real estate, insurance contract and property sales data to explore the development, deployment and implementation of financial applications on alternative platforms.
“This new lab is the next step in the strategy Robinson has been executing over the past two years; integrating computer science and related disciplines into the core activities of the business school,” said Richard Phillips, dean of Robinson College. He said the lab will “better prepare our students for the business environment of tomorrow”.
Many business schools are rolling out fintech courses as financial services companies demand fintech skills. NYU Stern School of Business, last year launched a fintech specialization in its MBA and eight new electives ranging from big data to blockchains. INSEAD this year revamped its MBA to include a focus on fintech and digital transformation.
Atlanta, where Robinson College is based, has emerged as a national leader in an industry that uses new technologies to eliminate intermediaries in traditional payment processes, lower costs and shorten financial transaction times. According to the Technology Association of Georgia, Georgia fintech companies employ more than 30,000 professionals in the state and generate annual revenues of more than $72 billion, behind only New York and California. Industry estimates indicate fintech could potentially affect or disrupt up to $4.7 trillion in financial services revenues.
Uses of the fintech lab will vary by specialty. Finance students will gain an understanding of the different layers of decentralized markets and obtain practical experience, designing smart contracts based on blockchains, the technology underpinning digital currencies such as bitcoin. They will also trade and settle virtual assets with private cryptocurrencies on secure blockchains.
Real estate students will simulate buying and selling residential property assets. They will also learn how to value, negotiate, finance, settle, refinance, invest and operate their assets in the absence of third parties, with the lab simulating the roles of a central banker, tax collector and settlement agency.
Insurance and risk management lab users will apply blockchain technology to settle claims and apply machine learning techniques in quantitative risk management.
The lab is the first step in a larger Robinson initiative that will include undergraduate and graduate courses. A master’s level fintech course will be offered in spring 2018.
The fintech lab will be housed in Robinson’s Institute for Insight. Formed in 2015, the institute brings students, faculty and companies together to solve business problems through the application of analytics, statistics, computer science and big data.