In spring 2018, Georgetown McDonough will offer a new elective focused on how fintech and blockchain are disrupting financial systems and impacting business. FINC 258 is designed to introduce the fundamentals of financial technology, better known as fintech, and blockchain to undergraduate students in any major. Objectives of the course include developing an understanding of the history and evolution of fintech, blockchain technology, and their applications and processes.
John Jacobs, executive director of the school’s Center for Financial Markets and Policy, will teach the course along with Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. The push for creating this class came from the students, Jacobs said. Interest in fintech has been growing among students, as evidenced by the formation of Georgetown Fintech, a student club, and robust attendance at fintech-focused workshops last year.
“The intersection of technology and financial services is one of the fastest-growing areas today,” Jacobs said. “It could be as important as the internet was.”
"One of the biggest challenges facing the blockchain industry is blockchain-ready talent,” said Boring. “In order for this industry to reach mass adoption, we need to develop a workforce that can support it. I am honored to join the faculty at Georgetown McDonough in preparing the future generation of professionals in this exciting technology frontier.”
The class will primarily consist of case studies to help students understand how companies are using technology to solve problems. When it comes to real-world applications, “there’s a whole host of opportunities,” Jacobs said. “We hope to arm students with the ability to analyze those opportunities, whether they work for a startup or a big organization.”
The course also will feature guest speakers from organizations that have either integrated fintech into their company or are themselves fintech-focused businesses. Jacobs plans to host guests who have “actually executed fintech application to either disrupt or evolve a business.” Although many speakers will hail from Washington, D.C., Jacobs plans to source nationally as well.
Jacobs hopes the students will leave the class with two key takeaways: that technology always moves faster than regulation policy, and that fintech either serves as a revolution, an evolution, or a disruption to the existing system.
“With the right frame of reference, students can see where authentic blockchain application is, whether that’s as big as the banking system of an African nation or as small as a payment customer interface,” he said.
The class also is designed to serve as a practical way for students to build knowledge and career skills.
“Georgetown students are naturally entrepreneurial, and this is a great way to give them a new skill set,” Jacobs said.