If you want to get into banking now, it might not make sense to study economics, or even banking and finance. A new breed of qualification is emerging to supply talent to the latest generation of financial firms.
The University of Southampton in the UK, for example, has transformed its bachelor’s degree in finance into a ‘Bachelor of Finance and Financial Technology,’ covering crypto, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending and technology. Larisa Yarovaya, who runs the new course at Southampton, says it has been in the works for several years and it would have gone faster without COVID. “The course is designed to provide students with more fundamental knowledge on issues such as blockchain and the synergies between finance and technology,” Yarovaya said. “Today, simply teaching traditional finance can limit our students’ career prospects. We wanted to incorporate these cutting-edge technologies into as innovative a course as possible.”
Although crypto has been through another winter, its proponents remain as excited as ever, and the blockchain technology that underpins crypto is still being hyped as the next big payments system. Following his recent fintech conference, Deutsche Bank says payments systems should still deliver “solid growth” relative to other tech sectors in a downturn, and that discussions now focus on things like real-time payments, speed of payments, integrated software and payments and electronic monetization of distributed ledger technology (blockchain).
Southampton is not the only university to launch a specialist degree in fintech. In the United States, the New Jersey Institute of Technology has launched a new bachelor in fintech, covering crypto, blockchain and artificial intelligence. The University of Sussex in the UK has a new degree in finance and technology from next year, and the ICMA center at the University of Reading has launched a new BSc in Finance with a fintech focus in 2021.
It’s still early. At Southampton, Yarovaya won’t disclose how many people have signed up for the course this year, but says there will likely be “several dozen” in the future. Students who discover fintech will be more employable, she says: “They will have the opportunity to work in any sector or start their own business.”
What Southampton’s new course doesn’t do is teach students how to code. Although students are learning the basics of computer programming with MatLab and AI, Yarovaya says coding isn’t the goal — or at least not yet. “We want to see how complex we can make the course before adding programming modules,” she says.
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