In one way, Fintech is the easiest of the newer computing buzzwords to explain, as it is simply a portmanteau that combines FINance with TECHnology to make a new word: Fintech. The word first began to be used in the early 1990s, as an abbreviation for Citi’s initiative: Financial Services Technology Consortium, though the move towards understanding the possible impact Technology could have on Finance began as early as the 1980s.
Finance tends to be old school and traditional: long-established banks and businesses that place a lot of importance on steadiness and reliability. We think of technology as speedily changing and evolving, developing and constantly sharpening its ‘cutting edge’, quickly leading us into the future.
Fintech works to provide the services, reliability and trustworthiness of a Finance company using Technology to make these services accessible in real time, in a flexible manner responsive to customer/vendor needs, and available to people who may not have access to traditional financial accounts.
Does Fintech affect my daily life?
One of the first Fintech companies that most of us were familiar with, before the word itself was widely known, was PayPal, which was the first service to make it easier for individuals to safely shop from vendors all around the world on their own terms, without expensive credit cards to monitor and manage, but with some protections. PayPal was founded in 1998. Technology has changed a lot in the past 20+ years, and Fintech has changed with it. However, at the time, PayPal was seen as a disruptor, something that changed the way things were usually done, challenging the bigger players in a system and their power to dictate terms. The ability of Fintech to ‘disrupt’ continues as it evolves.
For example, Robinhood Trading is an app that allows individuals to trade stocks and cryptocurrency without paying commission. Robinhood hit the news in 2021 when a group of Redditors used it - and other Fintech apps that permit trading in smaller amounts of shares, at lower levels of personal investment – to corner the market in Gamestop shares, pushing the price up, and therefore ‘squeezing’ the short that some of the more established hedge funds had taken on the stock (that is, they had taken the position that Gamestop was going to lose value). Fintech enabled ‘the little guy’ to make larger, more traditional financial institutions lose billions of dollars.
Disrupting old ways of doing business makes new jobs
Where there is disruption, there is potential. On the one hand, we see new companies – like Revolut – start-up and grow; and on the other hand, we see big businesses respond to the threat to their market dominance by learning how to adapt and grow – like how you can now connect your traditional bank account to Apple Pay.
Just this year, we see how the most traditional of sectors – insurance – is beginning to embrace digital technology. Brokerage companies are now looking for solutions offered by specialist Fintech companies, and also looking for in-house expertise to ensure the integrity of their industry is maintained even as they embrace new ways of doing business.
In this growing area, both start-up companies and big businesses need the same thing: people to work for them, who have proven knowledge of these new technologies and their broader implications.
Knowledge that future-proofs your employability
Fintech is now considered an area of expertise that offers ‘future proof’ employability – something everyone thinking about what they might study after school should consider. Currently identified as a ‘skills gaps’, where there are more jobs than suitably qualified people, courses in Fintech are often part- or fully-government funded.
If you are already out of school, whether in or out of employment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has created a one-stop shop to help you choose the right course for you.
Sounds interesting, but how would I even start?
COVID-19 has caused a lot of movement in the working world, rendering some previously reliable job areas insecure. It is very easy for other people to suggest that you reskill, but not so straightforward a journey to make in your own head, to let go of what might even be a passion rather than just a source of income, and to consider entering a different area – especially if it means undertaking a new learning curve – it can feel impossibly hard.
But, if you find yourself intrigued by the pioneering nature of Fintech - and the career prospects! – NCI is currently offering a short course that might be just right for you. This 12-week micro-credential in Data Governance and Cybersecurity provides a solid understand of and potential entry into the area of Fintech, allowing transfer to the HDip in Fintech. However, even as a standalone, it allows non-technical staff to move into technical areas of the industry they work in.
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