With New Online Certificate, Wharton Ups Its Fintech Investment

Penn Law professor Natasha Sarin during recent filming for Wharton’s new online fintech specialization.

Penn Law professor Natasha Sarin during recent filming for
Wharton’s new online fintech specialization. Wharton photo

More than one-third of the MBA Class of 2018 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School chose jobs in the financial services industry, by far the top choice among the school’s more than 800 new MBAs. Of course, Wharton is commonly considered the world’s top finance school, but it’s nonetheless an interesting wrinkle that while more than half (54.3%) of the latest graduating class switched career function and industry, nearly identical percentages came to Wharton from finance as left Wharton for finance: 35.7% and 36.9%, respectively, according to the school’s own employment report.

Finance is one of the pillars of graduate business education. Fintech is the new kid on the block. Already the global leader in finance, Wharton is the natural choice to lead in fintech, too: In its latest big move into the space, the school today (May 30) is launching a new online specialization through Coursera titled “FinTech: Foundations and Applications of Financial Technologies,” featuring four courses that cover a wide range of topics, from cryptocurrency to blockchain, crowdfunding to robo-advising, “insurtech” to modern investing. Classes will be taught by Wharton standing faculty members, including David Musto, faculty director of the new Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance.

“Wharton is committed to leading the future of finance,” says Musto, the Ronald O. Perelman professor in finance, in a Wharton news release. “The fintech specialization leverages the knowledge of our renowned Wharton faculty providing real-world knowledge to the benefit of learners around the globe.”

WHARTON IS ‘DEFINING FINTECH FOR THE WORLD’

The new 16-week program is available with a $79-per-month subscription to Coursera. It features four courses: Fintech: Foundations, Payments, and Regulations; Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies; Lending, Crowdfunding, and Modern Investing; and Fintech Specialties: Insurtech, Real Estate Tech, and Artificial Intelligence. Each course hs four modules and features lectures and case studies from Penn faculty, including Wharton professors Musto, Chris Geczy, and Jessica Wachter, and Penn Law professor Natasha Sarin.

The courses also feature speakers from the industry, with guests drawn from such organizations as marketplace lender CommonBond, mobile payment processor Square, investment adviser Vanguard, and others. Designed for working professionals, the fintech specialization is useful for “undergrad and grad students looking to beef up their resume over the summer months, small business owners who want to start using fintech applications in their operations, and investors who want to explore bitcoin” — as well as anyone else interested in gaining a foundational knowledge of financial technologies.

“We are proud to launch this program as part of our multi-faceted approach to defining fintech for the world,” Anne Trumbore, senior director of Wharton Online says. “The fintech specialization is an important new component of Wharton’s powerful fintech portfolio.”

FINTECH: ‘THE ROCKET FUEL OF FINANCIAL INNOVATION’

With the addition of the four specialization courses in fintech, Wharton Online now offers 10 certificate programs and over 50 courses. The Wharton School’s digital learning platform issues Continuing Education Units to specializations across a variety of business and management topics, with 100,000 certificate-earning learners and more than a million total learners who have accessed courses.

Wharton had been telegraphing this move for the last few months. In March the school announced the opening of the Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance, a move designed to put down a marker in Wharton’s mission to “define the state of the art in finance teaching and research,” Wharton Dean Geoff Garrett said at the time. “With fintech morphing from a buzzword into the rocket fuel of financial innovation, information technology is poised to revolutionize financial services — from mobile payments to microcredit, from lending to insurance, from cryptocurrencies to financial planning, and more. The Stevens Center will bring together the best thinkers from academia and industry to ensure that Wharton continues to chart the future of finance.”

Wharton is also home to the world’s first student fintech club, launched in 2014, and the first student-run fintech initiative.

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