Financial technology, or fintech for short, is revolutionizing the way people conduct business. Experts from Barclays and Citigroup estimate that 30 to 50 percent of the financial workforce will become automated in the next 10 years.
But what exactly is fintech? Business administration senior Zachary Harris, founder of the new Cal Poly FinTech club, said it is the intersection of financial services and technology that is making the industry more efficient and secure. The club is one of the first student-led fintech initiatives in the U.S., according to Harris.
“We are currently living through what many people refer to as one of the biggest transformations in financial history: the fintech revolution,” Harris said.
Due to the rapid growth of computing power, available data and emerging technologies, Harris said financial services are going digital across the globe. Mobile payment systems like Venmo are cutting out the middleman and cutting down on trips to the bank. Local businesses can now transition from accepting cash only to accepting credit with software like Square, an accessible point-of-sale system.
As companies look to hire more technology students instead of traditional accounting students, Harris said students need to be prepared for the changing field.
“About 80 percent of financial services and technology, media and [telecommunications] companies are creating jobs related to fintech but are struggling to fill these roles,” Harris said.
That’s where Cal Poly FinTech comes into play. The club, which was created Fall 2019, already has 330 members that have joined the “revolution,” Harris said. In addition to weekly meetings, Cal Poly FinTech hosts a quarter-long workshop that teaches students necessary technology skills, like learning programming language Python.
The goal, in addition to providing real-world skills, is to give students experience through hackathons and to host networking events with companies that are heavily recruiting in fintech, according to electrical engineering junior and Cal Poly FinTech club member Jason Lee.
“I think it’s still important to know accounting as a whole,” Lee said. “But within the next 10 years, [traditional] accounting is going to be obsolete.”
Interested students can join for free on the club website, and attend club meetings to start gaining necessary hands-on skills, Lee said.
“Many Cal Poly students have never heard of fintech at all or are aware of what’s to come,” Harris said. “If business students don’t learn these skills and new technologies, then they risk being part of the 50 percent that are looking for new work in the next 10 years.”