UCT’s new MOOC makes fintech more accessible

UCT has launched a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) examining the rise of fintech companies, the technology that enabled them and the regulation needed in an emerging market environment. The four-week course is being offered on Coursera, an online learning platform, which has 33 million users.

Dr Co-Pierre Georg, Associate Professor at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM), teaches the course. He feels it aligns with AIFMRM’s aims of equipping people with the necessary skills to make meaningful contributions to the financial industry. “We asked ourselves how we could make fintech inclusive, how this knowledge regarding a new area of industry can work for everyone – not just the early adopters. This is what drove us to develop the MOOC. We want to provide education around the topic for South Africa and the world,” he says.

The nature of a MOOC is such that it makes education available to a broader audience, according to Associate Professor Georg. Participants can study in their own time without having to travel to a university to attend lectures or write exams.

AIFMRM is a postgraduate teaching and research institute and is part of the Faculty of Commerce at UCT. It focuses on quantitative finance, risk management and financial technology offering three Master’s degrees and several online short courses directed at working professionals. The MOOC is a collaborative effort between AIFMRM and UCT’s Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT).

Speaking at the launch of the MOOC, CILT Director Laura Czerniewicz said, “Coursera had a call for proposals in fintech, and we are honoured to have been chosen to work in this area. We had something original to contribute in terms of emerging markets. This MOOC is an ideal way to engage with fast-movers and new developments in the industry. It offers an intense, short, flexible way of getting to grips with a new field.”

UCT’s course titled Financial regulation in emerging markets and the rise of fintech companies is open to everyone, there are no entry requirements – just an interest in this exciting field. Financial aid is available to cover the cost of the course.

“It will be of benefit to students, entrepreneurs, professionals in the financial services or fintech industries and anyone who wants to join the trailblazers and movers and shakers in the fintech revolution,” says Associate Professor Georg.

The course analyses the causes and repercussions of major financial crises such as the great depression of 1929 and the global crisis of 2008. It also explains new technologies, including blockchain, which have fuelled the emergence of fintech companies around the world. Participants will gain insight into the new regulatory environment, globally and in emerging markets.

According to Dr Sumarie Roodt, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Systems at UCT and Chairperson of the Silicon Cape Initiative, blockchain is the next big leap for the African continent. She says, “even though 94% of all transactions in Africa are cash-based, there has been a rapid adoption of fintech in communities that aren’t necessarily financially literate. Blockchain has many different applications across a wide range of industries, especially for verification processes. It can be used to verify land transactions by providing a fraud-proof registry and could improve governance by making transactions more transparent.”

Monica Singer, from the incubator Consensys, encourages entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to get involved and learn about this new field. She says, “you don’t need to be an expert to change the world! If you believe in something, and you have an exciting idea then follow your instinct – just do it! Blockchain will change everything – the future is here. Get involved.”

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