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With financial technology changing the way we live and do business, there’s growing demand for fintech-savvy graduates.

While fintech – a word fusion of financial and technology – may have once referred to back-end banking systems, it now covers a broad sweep of applications that has revolutionised the way we access finance.

From mobile apps to robo-advisors, fintech is an ever-expanding array of innovative finance options that’s also delivering growing career opportunities.

A long history

Associate Professor Mike Mao from Deakin Business School’s (DBS) Department of Finance says that although fintech is part of the current worldwide innovation boom, it has a long history stretching back to the introduction of credit cards in the 1950s.

‘Its most recent development phase started in 2008 when the global financial crisis triggered a distrust of the traditional banking system. This was followed by the release of bitcoin in 2009 which boosted the boom of different cryptocurrencies and the wide use of blockchain technology. The current fintech era is marked by the emergence of disruptive new players.’

Available everywhere to anyone

Essentially, fintech is a catch-all term for the innovative use of technology in the design and delivery of financial services and products.

Powered by innovations such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, mobile devices, cloud storage and the “internet of things”, it is challenging traditional bricks-and-mortar financial institutions by delivering financial services faster, more efficiently, and for far less cost.

‘Fintech has not only made financial services available everywhere, but also available to anyone,’ says Assoc. Prof. Mao.

Fintech at Deakin

Because the rise of fintech continues to expand opportunities across the business, retail and consumer sectors, DBS is now offering ‘Introduction to Fintech’ across all its postgraduate courses.

Focusing on the connection between banking, finance and technology, the unit is designed to help students strengthen their technology talent and broaden career options.

‘It explores how this emerging sector uses technology to improve and make financial services more accessible to the wider public by covering topics such as digital payments and remittances, crowd funding, blockchain and cryptocurrencies. It also offers students experience in cryptocurrency trading in the Deakin Trading Room and includes case studies, peer-to-peer funding, digital currency (bitcoin) settlement, (blockchain) and financial advisory,’ explains Assoc. Prof. Mao.

New ways of thinking

Whether it’s payments, lending processes, wealth management, or any other finance-related activity, organisations are now exploring the ways in which fintech can improve their business models, services and delivery for less cost and risk.

‘The technology is adding higher value to the consumer experience and market strategies by incorporating cutting-edge techniques and tactics into the process, which is eventually drawing the time of disruption of the future of business world,’ says Assoc. Prof. Mao.

‘Finance is no longer simply about finance, it’s about new ways of thinking, understanding the impact of new technology and challenging the status quo. Fintech has shown that if you think there is a better or more efficient way to do something, you can make that happen.’

Industry growth - greater career opportunities

Despite the economic impact of COVID-19, the fintech industry continues to grow across Australia which means greater opportunity for both innovation and careers.

Assoc. Prof. Mao says that DBS graduates with fintech training will line up competitively for interviews in the job market.

‘This includes careers with financial institutions such as the ‘big four’ banks in Australia, large tech companies like Google, Samsung and Apple, companies such as Visa and Mastercard that provide infrastructure for credit cards and other transactions, as well organisations like PayPal, Alipay and WeChat that focus on digital innovation for specific processes.’

But it’s more than jobs simply in the finance sector.

With an expanding, business-wide need for a workforce capable of meeting the demands of the future, Assoc. Prof. Mao says fintech knowledge matters. 

‘It matters to the whole business world because its delivers practical impacts to firms’ financing structure, money movements, governance, and contract design. For all students who aim to succeed in the business world, fintech knowledge is essential.’

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