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University Of Cape Town Becomes The First College In Africa To Offer Fintech Degree

The University of Cape Town in South Africa has become the first tertiary education institution in Africa to offer a specialized fintech degree.

The degree has been designed to provide students with the necessary skills and practical knowledge to acquire or further a career within the modern financial services sector, which is currently experiencing unprecedented growth.

Officially listed as a master of data science with a specialisation in financial technology qualification, the new degree will be offered for the first time in January 2018, according to BizNewsAfrica.

The course will prepare students for modern fintech requirements through study and understanding of the latest methods in statistical learning, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, while blockchain technology will also be a major subject within the degree, reports Businesstech.

Fintech is a rapidly growing sector, and the innovative solutions that fintech enterprises are producing have attracted the attention of investors, in the hope that these financial disruptors become the next PayPal or similar concept in Africa.

The last two years have seen a sharp increase in the number of businesses created in this sector, with 301 African fintech startups identified across 20 countries on the continent, data compiled by Disrupt Africa revealed.

The sector-specific report entitled ‘Finnovating for Africa: Exploring the African Fintech Ecosystem Report 2017’, closely analyzed the hundreds of fintech companies now operating in this space, establishing that an estimated $92,679,000 in investment was attracted by these fintech players in the African market in the last two years.

A fintech degree to meet skills requirements

While there is currently a revolution in terms of financial services technology, the skills required for companies within this sphere are often in short supply, motivating the University of Cape Town to provide a qualification to meet those requirements.

Fintech degree course convener, Dr Co-Pierre Georg, is a senior lecturer at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management at the University of Cape Town, and he explains that the course was born out of a need for the skills that will be provided.

“We are in constant and close contact with the financial services industry and know that it is facing a shifting demand for skills,” Georg said, according to ITNewsAfrica.

“In the past, companies were mainly looking for advanced mathematical and modelling skills. There still is demand for these skills, but by far the largest demand now is for students who have a thorough understanding of finance combined with a mastery of modern data analytics and software development skills,” he added.

“Our students will be able to develop these skills in the two most exciting areas of fintech; machine learning and blockchain technologies,” he said.

There is already a great demand for the degree, according to the university, and Georg believes that graduates will be assets for fintech startups, and some will go on to launch their own businesses within the sector.

“Fintech offers a unique opportunity to radically transform the industry. Young startups are already challenging the incumbents and our students will be on the forefront of this technological revolution in South Africa,” he said.

“Our focus on entrepreneurship means that we will change the students’ mindset so that they not only want to go out and ‘get’ a job, but also to go out and create a job – or a hundred,” Georg said.

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