Chris Larsen to Guest Lecture for MIT Future Commerce


Turning disruption into opportunity. Image: GetSmarter

Fintech is to the financial sector what the word “disruption” is to startup culture. And, as much of a buzzword as it may be, disruption is indeed what underpins the lucrative opportunities lying in wait for those who are looking to leverage the opportunities the Internet of Value will bring. To address the growing need for industry education in this exciting field, MIT is launching the Fintech certificate course: Future Commerce in 2016, to be delivered entirely online and part-time.

It’s estimated that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use this year, up 30 percent from 2015. With everything from wearable tech to transportation being imbued with smart, data-yielding connectivity at breakneck speed, it’s only a matter of time before the financial sector wakes up to the profound potential of modernizing its infrastructure to support the frictionless, low-value (even micro-) payments the Internet of Things (IoT) will demand.

The flow of information generated by the IoT presents a number of transformational opportunities for previously disengaged entities to broaden the boundaries of inclusivity and reconnect with their consumers in meaningful ways. Many players in the financial sector, however, are not waiting around for the benefits of IoT to fully take shape — because the need for infrastructure that allows low-value, cross-border payments, for example, is already here, and has been for quite some time.

We currently live in a world where, broadly speaking, if you earn less, you pay more on a per unit basis. The most obvious place where this principle occurs is with remittances. If you, from a first-world country, want to send money from one place to another, it might cost you a few dollars. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, if you wanted to send money abroad, you’d pay upwards of 15 percent to the remittance agency that gets your money over there.

The good news?

“There’s a revolution happening in financial technology — in part driven by distributed ledgers like blockchain, and in part driven by companies like Ripple who are expanding on the inclusivity of blockchain by creating enterprise solutions that support all existing currencies, and don’t require the use of bitcoin,” explains Dave Shrier, Managing Director of MIT Connection Science.

So, what’s the bad news?

“The biggest issue with blockchain and bitcoin is the lack of education,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO of BitFury, at World Economic Forum in Davos this January. Which is exactly why Shrier, along with Alex “Sandy” Pentland (founding faculty director of the MIT Connection Science Research Initiative); Brian Forde (Director of Digital Currency at the MIT Media Lab); and Joost Bonsen (Lecturer at MIT Media Lab & Founding Research Fellow), have teamed up to instruct the new online MIT Fintech certificate course: Future Commerce.

The 12-week online class is an exciting opportunity for financial services, insurance, or banking professionals as well as entrepreneurs around the world who want to access the world-class education associated with MIT’s renowned Media Lab.

“Through the course of this 12-week online class,” Shrier elaborates, “you will be exposed to the future of money, commerce, and payments: disruptive technologies, like blockchain, leading to the rise of new currencies; you will explore innovation in financial markets; how new technologies around data and analytics, for example, are creating the ability to predict the future price of a security with great accuracy.

“You’ll investigate what’s going on with identity, privacy and security, and other areas of financial infrastructure. You’ll hear from some of the world’s leading minds — including Ripple’s co-founder and CEO, Chris Larsen — on industry traction and developing new policies around these areas. You’ll get an opportunity to understand what’s going on with how best to serve small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The online and part-time MIT Fintech certificate course: Future Commerce course starts 6 June, 2016. To learn more, download the course information pack here.

With special contributions by Natasha Nel.