Insights & Analyses

Students clamor for courses on fintech at US business schools

June 8, 2017

The booming area of fintech has a decidedly lacking curriculum in higher education, students say, as they push business schools in America to offer more courses focused on the emerging space.

Because the financial technology sector remains in flux, it has been difficult for colleges to develop curriculums devoted to fintech, but student demand has driven the push for more courses according to Reuters. Accordingly, the business schools of Stanford and Georgetown universities both plan to offer fintech courses for MBA students for the first time starting this fall.

They will join the business schools of New York University and Columbia University, as well as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. NYU also plans to expand with a new fintech course for undergraduates, after seeing more than twice as many enrollments as expected.

Some of the areas of focus include a blockchain course at MIT, and a class on financial inclusion at Stanford. There’s even a student FinTech Club at Wharton that boasts 260 members.

Reena Aggarwal, director of the Georgetown Center for Financial Markets and Policy, told Reuters that business and finance students today are more focused on innovation in their industry, rather than investment banking or trading. Their interests are driven in part by services like Venmo, a person-to-person payment service which originally caught on with millennials on college campuses.

Schools are left developing their own curriculums because there is no precedent for how to teach a course on fintech, or even where the industry is going. Not only is the definition shifting, but so are the applications, with the emerging regtech space looking to shake up the regulation side of the financial industry.

Ryan Zagone, director of regulatory communications at cross-border payment network Ripple, told One World Identity’s State of Identity podcast in April that he sees fintech, regtech, and financial institutions all coming together to find common ground. In his view, it could turn into an industrywide shakeup that could ultimately benefit consumers, especially those who are currently underbanked.

With expectations of major changes to come in the financial space, it is perhaps no surprise that the next generation of graduates want to get in on the ground floor, affect industry change, and be up to speed on where the market is heading next.

“I expect that people see this convergence of of regtech, fintech, and financial institutions themselves all coming together to leverage the core competencies of all these different players,” Ripple said. “It’s really a partnership.”