If you want to get into banking now, it may not make sense to study economics, or even straight banking and finance. A new breed of qualification is emerging to provide talent to the latest generation of finance firms.
The University of Southampton in the UK, for example, has changed its bachelors in finance degree to a 'bachelors in finance and financial technology,' covering crypto, crowdfunding, peer to peer lending and technology. Larisa Yarovaya, who runs the new course at Southampton, says it's been several years in the making and would have happened more quickly without COVID. "The course is designed to provide students with more fundamental knowledge about issues like blockchain and the synergies between finance and technology," Yarovaya says. "Nowadays, just teaching traditional finance might limit our students' career prospects. We wanted to integrate these cutting edge technologies into a course that's as innovative as possible."
Although crypto has been going through another winter, its proponents remain as fired-up as ever and the blockchain technology underpinning crypto is still exalted as the next big thing payments systems. Following its recent fintech conference, Deutsche Bank says payments systems are still expected to deliver "solid growth" relative to other technology sectors in any downturn, and that the talk now is around things like real-time payments, payment velocity, software and embedded payments and the electronic monetization of distributed ledger (blockchain) technology.
Southampton isn't the only university to launch a focused fintech degree. In the US, the New Jersey Institute of Technology has launched a new bachelor's in fintech, covering crypto, blockchain and artificial intelligence. The UK's University of Sussex has a new finance and technology degree starting next year, and the University of Reading's ICMA centre started a new BSc in finance with a fintech focus in 2021.
It's still early days. At Southampton, Yarovaya won't disclose how many people have signed up to the course this year, but says it's ultimately likely to be "several dozens" in future. Students who learn about fintech will be more employable, she says: "They will have the opportunity to work in any sector or to create their own business."
What Southampton's new course doesn't do is teach students how to code. Although students will learn the basics of computer programming along with MatLab and AI, Yarovaya says coding isn't the focus - or at least not yet. "We want to see how complex we can make the course before adding programming modules," she says.
Photo by Trevor Black on Unsplash
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