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Tag: digital innovation

The Financial Technology Revolution

By Josh Deems

The saga of finance technology, dubbed “fintech,” is on a delayed start compared to other industries. When the proverbial innovation alarm clock rang around 2004, a digital revolution ignited media,telecom, retail, and other nimble segments into transformation. New ideas, technologies, and companies emerged and became entrenched in our daily lives. In the meantime, financial services hit the snooze button… but why?

Innovation in finance has happened before

In the 1950’s, the invention of the credit card was thought to render physical cash obsolete. By the 1960’s, ATMs appeared, threatening the existence of live tellers and bank branches. Starting in the 1970s, stock brokers ditched phone and paper based trades for electronic systems. From 1998 on, consumers and retailers began transacting for goods and services through linked-bank accounts via the online payments system, PayPal.

Major advancements in banking technology have happened every decade since the end of the Second World War, but none harnessing the disruptive power of the revolution we’re facing today.

Why now?

Fast forward to 2008. New banking services materialized again, this time driven by the millennial thirst for digitization, the anti-establishment distrust of arcane banking processes, and the chutzpah of start-
ups and investors. Concepts such as peer-to-peer lending, digital wealth management, and the first fully electronic currency, Bitcoin, became the focal point of innovation. The theme shifted to the ‘unbundling’ of core banking services often thought as too large, too complex, and too regulated to face disruption.

<<Learn more about the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis>>

Overview of new services

Highlighted below are two of the more prominent technologies involved in the paradigm shift of the banking industry. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology and buzzword associated with Bitcoin, and robo-advisors, or digital wealth platforms changing the way we manage personal portfolios.

Blockchain

  • What is it? Distributed, immutable, and fully secure database technology. Underlying engine of bitcoin, and supporting technology for peer-to-peer payments worldwide.
  • Key Players Open source blockchain providers (Ethereum, Hyperledger); enterprise blockchain companies (Chain, itBit, Symbiont); financial services consortium (R3, Post Trade Distributed Ledger Group); global payments (Ripple); bitcoin-enabled services (Coinbase, Bitfinex)
  • Potential Impact
    •  Send payments across the globe in seconds (remember Western Union, anyone?)
    • Tokenize and track the movement of assets across the world’s financial markets
    • Shared ledgers and asset records across regulators, buy-side, sell-side, and custodians
    • Immutable history of every financial institution’s transactions
    • Digitization of fiat currency (Bank of England is experimenting with this)
    • Automated compliance and settlement processes

Robo-Advisors

  • What is it?  Umbrella term for digital wealth management advice. Covers anything from fully-automated and algorithm-based portfolio generation to digital client engagement tools used by human wealth advisors.
  • Key Players Institutional (Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard, BlackRock); Standalone Robo’s (Betterment, Wealthfront, SigFig, LearnVest)
  • Potential Impact
    • For consumers, cheaper investment advice, diversified portfolio with lower fees through ETF-based offerings, access to features (tax-loss harvesting and portfolio rebalancing) formerly only offered by professional managers to high net worth individuals
    • For advisors, broaden scope of managed portfolios beyond high net worth individuals and increase AUM, especially by engaging and targeting millennials. Enhanced market analytics and insights to provide clients.

How to stay ahead

From behemoth banks to lean start-ups, the appetite for seasoned bankers, savvy coders, and entrepreneurial-minded individuals who can bridge the tech and finance gaps is growing. According to LinkedIn data from September 16, 2016, there are over 450 fintech job recommendations between New York, San Francisco, and Boston, and over 650 in London. And these figures ignore the opportunities unlocked by starting your own fintech.

If you’re interested in learning more, a great place to start is the MS in Science for Digital Innovation offered by Brandeis University. The program condenses the fintech ecosystem, and blends the finance and technology skillsets required to build your own personal fintech toolkit. And the secret sauce? The program is taught by experienced professionals who are engaged in the academic, finance, and technology communities.

The finance digital revolution is upon us, and our economy is becoming increasingly mobile and on-demand. Become an active participant in the movement and take the opportunity to learn new topics, network with like-minded individuals, and explore how companies are changing the way banking is conducted worldwide. Soon, you will become the face of the fintech revolution as well.

Josh Deems is an AVP and business strategist at State Street Corporation’s Emerging Technologies Center. Prior to joining State Street, Josh was a management consultant, focusing on operating model improvement and digital experience for asset managers. Josh holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the George Washington University with a concentration in finance.

Picture of the author, Josh Deems

Josh Deems

 

Innovation Experts Discuss the State of Fintech

On Aug. 18, 2016, Brandeis GPS hosted a webinar led by Ashley Nagle Eknaian, chair of the new Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech, with Jason Zaler, FinTech Partnerships Lead at PwC. This interesting and interactive discussion helped us celebrate the launch of the program, which is welcoming its first students this fall.

Just voted #36 in Onalytica’s list of top 100 FinTech innovators and brands, Zaler offered valuable insight into the evolving world of FinTech and the many industries impacted by this important technology. Zaler began the discussion by pointing out the many ways that most people use FinTech in everyday life through apps such as Venmo, Square, mobile banking apps, and robo-advice services. Because FinTech’s reach is constantly increasing, Zaler stressed the need to continuously reassess the industry.

“Learning so much about what was happening and seeing how fast it changed drove us to reevaluate the way we deliver insight and consulting,” Zaler said. “It propels us to develop a platform to provide that information to clients in real time.”

Zaler and Eknaian also discussed Fintech’s role in financial service institutions, technology companies, pay networks, and of course, FinTech startups. These groups are all trying to figure out how to best interact with one another to understand and maximize the new technologies available — to create the perfect marriage between financial institutions and technological innovation. The dialogue and new questions springing from these groups constantly draw many into this emerging field.

Competition with FinTech startups
Today in FinTech, some of the most important services exist on the backend of operations that consumers don’t often see. For example, FinTech services are used to clean up bank ledgers.

FinTech startups are essentially disrupters in the industry, knocking out other companies who would otherwise control this back-end technology. In order to help customers, big financial institutions are directly acquiring apps and cutting out big companies, making the process more efficient. As there is a lot of competition in this evolving industry, better products are constantly coming out for people to use on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s really an ecosystem where there’s a lot of movement, a lot of competition,” said Zaler. “The thing to be aware of is that as these companies jockey for a position, there is one benefit to the consumers: better products with better interfaces that you can use in your daily lives.”

Keeping customers through FinTech
Today, banks are working toward keeping their customers from the time they open their first account in college to an eventual retirement. To carry customers through their banking journey, banks now offer FinTech services for each stage of a customer’s experience. Zaler noted that customers today use an average of three to five FinTech products, so banks want to make sure their FinTech app stays on their customers’ phones.

FinTech around the world
FinTech is now a global industry, with major hubs in Silicon Valley, New York, London, Singapore, Israel, Dublin and Scandinavia. Regulations imposed on FinTech companies are what shape each country’s approach to FinTech throughout the globe. While Europe has more regulations that prevent FinTech companies from partnering with banks, the regulatory policies in China focus on making it easier for FinTech products to come to market, which causes major fraud issues and mistrust of these products in potential customers. With 30 percent of FinTech companies now under investigation in China, companies need to convince people they’re trustworthy before they can even begin to directly market their products.

Zaler also went on to discuss the benefits of large financial institutions relying on startups for services. He noted that there are three ways to think about how financial institutions can get FinTech services:

  • Buying them from another provider
  • Partnering with another company
  • Building their own

While many companies do opt to build their own or partner with other companies, often startups are cheap and have already developed the technology the large financial institution is looking for, making it more cost effective to just buy the technology.

This webinar, held in conjunction with the announcement of the new MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis GPS concluded with Zaler giving suggestions of how to stay up to date with FinTech news through following key influencers on Twitter and using the Denovo site, built by his company, PwC.

Study user interface design online at Brandeis

Did you know that Brandeis GPS offers courses for professional development? Enroll in an online course this fall and network with new colleagues in a 10-week, seminar-style online classroom capped at 20 students. Registration is now open and we’re celebrating by profiling our favorite fall courses.

Get an introduction to user interface design principles and concepts of user-centered design. With this 10-week, graduate-level course, you’ll learn the foundations of goal-directed design and best practices for creating intuitive software that aligns with user expectations and preferred behaviors. Topics will include:

  • User interface approaches for web, desktop and mobile applications
  • Navigation and menu selections based on application needs
  • Universal design and accessibility
  • Selections for graphics, colors, screen controls and interactive devices

Whether you’re looking to complete a full degree or advance your career through professional development, this course will change the way you think about designing for the user experience.

Fall courses run Sept. 14-Nov. 22. Whether you’re looking to complete a full degree or advance your career through professional development, this course is designed to equip you with the necessary skills for making an impact in any industry or organization.

How it works:
Take a part-time, online course this fall without enrolling in one of our graduate programs. If you like what you learn and want to continue your education, you can apply your credits from this fall toward a future degree. Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or fill out our first-time registration form and we’ll be in touch.

GPS launches master’s degree in Financial Technology

FinTech-heroGPS is excited to announce the launch of a fully online, part-time master’s degree that is the first of its kind among U.S. colleges and universities: a Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech.

The FinTech degree is geared toward creative thinkers who work for organizations that rely on technology for providing efficient financial services and systems. Developed in conjunction with experts in the field, the program seeks to service a global financial industry where digital advancements are becoming increasingly critical to economic success and market growth. A March 2015 report published by Accenture shows that investments in FinTech tripled between 2013 and 2014 alone. To stay competitive and meet industry demands, startups and international corporations alike will need to invest in untapped technologies and innovations.

View a sample FinTech curriculum or request more information

“Financial technology is everywhere, whether you’re using mobile banking to pay for your monthly mortgage or an app to pay for your morning coffee,” said Anne Marando, executive director of Brandeis GPS. “In a world where more and more institutions are turning to mobile technology to transact business, this program gives financial professionals the tech skills necessary to develop innovative solutions and approaches.”

The program’s part-time nature allows students to complete the 30-credit degree in 1.6 to 3 years. The FinTech curriculum captures the industry’s latest tools and best practices while incorporating the rigorous standards of excellence that make Brandeis one of the country’s top universities. A professional advisory board will monitor and ensure the currency and relevance of the program’s courses, which will cover topics in finance, software, analytics and UX design. Required courses will include:

  • The New Economy: Global Disruption and the Emergence of FinTech
  • Launching FinTech Ventures
  • Mobile Applications and Responsive Web Design

Students interested in joining the MS in FinTech’s inaugural cohort should submit their applications by Aug. 16, 2016. Students may also take individual courses prior to applying for admission or for professional development purposes. Registration for the fall 2016 term opens on Aug. 23, with courses beginning Sept. 14. Visit www.brandeis.edu/gps for more information.

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