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Invest in your career with an MSc in Data Science and FinTech

Financial Technology (FinTech) is one of the biggest trends to hit the finance sector for decades. Initially seen as a threat to traditional banking models, the technology is increasingly being embraced and adopted by the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions in their bid not to lose customers.

Written by Allie Fitzgibbon |

iPad showing economic statistics
With daily banking transactions and major investments becoming increasingly digitised, the need for data scientists in the FinTech industry is increasing.

From mobile banking and electronic payments to crypto currency and blockchain technologies, FinTech is estimated to be worth $4.7 trillion worldwide.  

With daily transactions and major investments becoming increasingly digitised, the need for data scientists in the FinTech industry is only increasing. Whether you want to work in fraud detection or customer retention, credit scoring or risk analysis, the University of London’s new MSc in Data Science and Financial Technology will give you the core skills you need.  

If you consider the current generation, they want to do everything online, or even better, on their mobile phone. So why just for banking should they have to go to a branch?

We spoke to Dr Raju Chinthalapati, Reader in Financial Technologies and Co-leader of the FinTech programme, about why you should consider making this investment in your data science career. 

“My own background is in both computer science and mathematics and finance and after I completed PhDs in both fields I worked for Deutsche Bank in strategy research that involved quantitative and computational finance. When it comes to research, I’ve always been interested in bridging the gap between computer science and finance, looking for any ways we can use tools and methods from other scientific disciplines to help make the financial world frictionless and more stable.  

“I think that’s what makes FinTech such an exciting field – we can use the most cutting-edge technology available in computer science to redesign financial services and products using first principles, rather than retrofitting the tech to fit existing models. It’s like going back to the drawing board and thinking, ‘if we were going to start banking and finance in 2019, what technologies and methods would we use?’” 

I’ve always been interested in bridging the gap between computer science and finance, looking for any ways we can use tools and methods from other scientific disciplines to help make the financial world frictionless and more stable.

While it may be creating a buzz, the FinTech bubble does not look set to burst any time soon. In 2018 five more FinTech companies reached coveted ‘unicorn’ status, including digital bank, Monzo, and credit card provider, Brex.  

“There are a lot of misconceptions about FinTech,” Dr Chinthalapati explained. “People may think it’s a bubble that’s going to burst but actually even if the trend declines many FinTech companies will survive. I think a lot of people are worried it will ruin existing banks and financial institutions and that’s also wrong. Perhaps some traditional banks may be eliminated, just as some FinTech companies will be eliminated, but eventually they will coexist and having both will help to remove the friction that we have in the financial world at present. 

“One of the main issues with existing banks is that they are often held back and restricted by their own legacies and change is a difficult thing to achieve. In comparison, FinTech is new and fresh and isn’t weighed down by this unnecessary gravity – they have the complete freedom to redesign the services they want to offer. 

“If you consider the current generation, they want to do everything online, or even better, on their mobile phone. So why just for banking should they have to go to a branch? What we see is something called the ‘Network Effect’ where individuals become increasingly influenced by their network, not just of friends and families but also companies they buy and sell from. If people start to use a particular platform to conduct transactions, then other people in their network are influenced to do the same. The winners will be the platforms that provide the most frictionless and fluid financial products and services.”  

In FinTech we can use the most cutting-edge technology available in computer science to redesign financial services and products using first principles, rather than retrofitting the tech to fit existing models.

It isn’t only the traditionally dominant financial markets where FinTech is thriving – nearly 40% of deals in 2018 were made outside of the US, UK and China. 

Dr Chinthalapati added, “It would be wrong to assume that FinTech is only happening in traditionally technically strong hubs like the US and Europe. We have seen it is rapidly growing in developing countries including India and large parts of Africa and the technical skills-base in these areas is growing to meet demand.” 

We would look for candidates who are excited about the opportunity to redesign financial services…and have the curiosity to want to explore those possibilities.

We asked Dr Chinthalapati what qualities would make the ideal candidate for the Data Science with Financial Technology programme. “Fintech is very much interdisciplinary, using theories and methods from finance, statistics, maths, physics and engineering. You don’t need to have all those skills to begin with but the most important thing is a willingness to learn new things and be adaptable.  

“We would also look for candidates who are excited about the opportunity to redesign thousands of financial services and products using first principles and have the curiosity to want to explore those possibilities.” 

Find out how you can join the FinTech disrupters with a MSc in Data Science from the University of London.