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FinTech: Six Business Schools Harnessing The Power Of Bitcoin’s Blockchain

MBA programs race to explore financial innovation

Thu Mar 3 2016

Deep in the heart of Manhattan’s West Side, a throng of financial services executives are racking their brains around a technology said to have the same revolutionary potential of the internet.

The blockchain gained notoriety as the platform for the cryptocurrency bitcoin. It has secured admirers from banks UBS and Goldman Sachs to companies IBM and PwC. Now business schools are racing to harness the power of the technology.

NYU Stern in New York was one of the first to teach the topic in an MBA program. Last year it launched its executive course. Many students will be from Wall Street to the south. Now they are exploring what is poised to disrupt it.

“The potential appears to be enormous,” says David Yermack, chair of NYU Stern’s finance department. “Most of the large banks and other financial record-keeping institutions are looking closely at the technology.”

To its devotees, possibilities are limitless. Potential uses range from cross-border payments to smart contracts that are self-executing. It could cut banks’ costs by $20 billion a year from 2022, according to Santander, Oliver Wyman and Anthemis.

Some reckon the tech even has the potential to shake-up established players like “disruptors” Uber and Airbnb have done with the service sectors.

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

Below we explore five other business schools joining NYU Stern in the search for blockchain value.

Duke Fuqua


At Duke, MBA and law students have been fused with computer scientists to create start-up teams exploring potential business ventures harnessing the blockchain.

“Blockchain is a really innovative idea that has the potential to change many businesses. My students realize that,” says Campbell Harvey, finance professor.

One student venture is using a blockchain to improve the efficiency and safety of acquiring medical prescriptions. 76 in total are taking his class — a six-fold increase on last year. “It’s a little unusual for an academic institution to be serving as an incubator,” Campbell says. But he muses others will surely follow suit.   

MIT Sloan School of Management 


Sloan is a case in point. It is developing content to extend its FinTech Ventures program into a semester-long course.

The program focused on helping participants build fintech businesses and explored payments, trading and the blockchain. “A number of students are launching start-ups in fintech [sectors], from peer-to-peer lending to ‘roboadvisors’,” says Antoinette Schoar, Sloan professor of entrepreneurial finance.

Sloan has been approached by financial institutions including BlackRock, the world’s largest fund house. “Existing players are really interested in this space,” Antoinette says.

USC Marshall School of Business 


Marshall in January launched a formal fintech course for MBAs. Themes being explored include alternative lending platforms, big data, bank disintermediation, innovation in payments, and digital currencies.

“We will be talking about blockchain in the cryptocurrencies class and hope to bring in a guest speaker that can provide in-depth experiences,” says Marc Hamud, senior vice president at GE Capital, who co-teaches the course.

Top fintech executives being lined up as speakers include from SoFi, the $4 billion, disruptive peer-to-peer lender.

“Fintech is coming at traditional banking from a new perspective and as such our course is focusing more on new business models,” says Marc.

Wharton School


Wharton’s student-run fintech club coordinates study programs with companies pioneering blockchain technology.  

“Last November we visited Blockchain, the provider of the world’s most popular bitcoin wallet,” says Matthew Applegate, MBA and VP at Wharton FinTech. “And four students are currently participating in a semester-long independent study project with BlockCypher, a blockchain web services start-up.”

Wharton FinTech also coordinates independent study programs with companies like Prosper, Moven and Oracle. “Students receive credit for helping fintech companies solve their most challenging business problems,” Matthew says.

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business 


Haas this year introduced a new course on fintech for MBAs that explores topics such as payments and the blockchain.

A stone’s throw from Silicon Valley fintech groups such as Square, Stripe and Coinbase, the school has moved away from the finance department’s roots in investment banking.

A number of students are now flocking to the San Francisco school because they are keen to join start-ups changing up finance in the Bay Area. “There is a lot of demand from employers and the start-ups here for people who understand fintech,” says Adair Morse, assistant finance professor.

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business




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.




On Campus


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.




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.




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.




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





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.





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.




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.




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.




On Campus

Program Flexibility and Vibrant Campus Life

Duke University is renowned for its rigorous academic programs and vibrant campus life. The university offers a diverse range of majors and research opportunities, supported by world-class faculty. What I particularly liked about Duke was its strong sense of community and the wealth of extracurricular activities available to students. The campus is beautiful, with top-notch facilities and a supportive atmosphere that fosters both personal and academic growth. Overall, I would highly recommend Duke University for its excellent educational offerings and strong alumni network. If you're looking for a place that challenges you academically while offering numerous opportunities for personal development, Duke is an excellent choice.