FinTech Boot Camp: empowering 50 Masters & MBA students to challenge financial services

The 3rd Vlerick FinTech Boot Camp kicked off with 50 Masters and MBA students positioning themselves in the financial services industry and playfully labelling themselves as ‘banker’, ‘hype’, ‘techie’ or ‘ninja’. Attracted by the buzz of it, students could bring their expertise to the FinTech table, and collaborate with more classically schooled ‘banker’ types, or ‘techies’. Some grew into true FinTech ninjas, engaging in cross-industrial collaboration eager for disruption. Together with Prof Bjorn Cumps, I invited these students with very diverse backgrounds to process, take a position, and engage in a 3-week industry boot camp. We challenged them and asked them to share their views with more than 20 international industry experts. A 3-day field trip to London, one of the world’s FinTech capitals, spiced the programme.

FinTech Boot Camp

This is a very exciting time to be involved in FinTech − we’re seeing new business models, better UX and IT specialists moving up the ranks, groups of un(der)-banked people starting to be addressed, and apps emerging that really solve real-world problems. Critical to understanding the anticipation of FinTech is the fact that finance involves us all. Indeed, FinTech can play an important role in building smart nations, harnessing technology to open opportunities and improve the lives of citizens.

FinTech Boot Camp - visit WorldremitThis becomes tangible visiting WorldRemit, a London-based online money transfer service that provides international remittance services to expatriates and migrant workers. Using new technology, they enable online transfers to loved ones in more than 140 destinations around the world, offering an alternative to money transfer companies that charge punishing rates and make their customers visit an agent to fill in bits of paper. Revolut is another company enabling access to easier and cheaper financial services, offering fee-free transfers at real exchange rates for over 130 currencies, including bitcoin.

The game for disruption is on!

The top of the bill was Revolut − here we finally got to experience FinTech in full action,” states Sebastiaan Van Noten (Masters in General Management).

Marc Westermann (Masters in Innovation & Entrepreneurship) couldn’t agree more and was also impressed by Level39, the tech incubator housing this challenger bank.

Axel De Monie (Masters in General Management) adds: “During the boot camp, many entrepreneurs convinced me of the added value of FinTechs for today’s traditional banking landscape. Their focus on disrupting traditional banking by playing a digital role was very appealing to me. As I will be graduating soon and aspire to a career in financial services, I experienced this boot camp as the perfect opportunity to critically think about my future role in a bank and the interaction between the incumbents and the FinTechs. I strongly believe in this collaboration between FinTechs and the incumbents, as it is in line with the gaining prominence of API’s ecosystems. I’m convinced this is a great trend and creates value for all parties involved: customers receive unique and innovative services, incumbents can benefit from the expertise of techies with fresh views on banking, and FinTechs can do what they are good at: disrupting financial services and making money out of it. The game for disruption is on!FinTech Boot Camp - talk by Anne Boden (Starling Bank)

John Deligiannis (Masters in International Management & Strategy) concludes by saying: “Digital banks came to disrupt the traditional banking. However, even in this field the competition is so fierce that only a few will manage to succeed in this area. Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank at Digital Money Symposium in London was particularly impressive. She said that they can and they will copy their card and their technology, but they can’t copy their cost base.

Emerging ecosystem of collaborative competitors

FinTech Boot Camp - visit LendableIndeed, in this boot camp we zoomed in on the emerging ecosystem of collaborative competitors. We witnessed financial institutions as ecosystem aggregators, asking themselves: “Can we leverage our assets and experience by orchestrating a platform for other innovators?” Also, we visited young technology pioneers − such as Data.be, Easyvest, Lendable and Settlemint − trying to drive new standards, becoming a technology of choice and building non-exclusive licensing. And we developed future scenarios with cross-industrial incumbent competitors, such as telecom players and energy suppliers.

Deep Dive

The third and last boot camp week was dedicated to real company case assignments. We collaborated with KBC, BNP Paribas Fortis and FinTech Belgium to provide different case flavours: incumbent perspective, disrupter perspective, tech deep dive, ecosystem perspective, and more. Students could pick what they are most passionate about. Presenting their solutions to a professional jury, they all passed the test and received their membership in the Vlerick FinTech Academy. Curious to hear from them in the near future!

Find out more and be inspired

Vlerick Business School is reaping the rewards for engaging in FinTech early on. Since 2016, we’ve been organising FinTech boot camps for Masters and MBA students; and with FinTech Futures, we offer executives an exploration of the latest in technology, regulation and user experience in financial services. We bring together independent expert speakers, new innovations and networking opportunities to create unmissable events for professionals in the finance sector.

Tine Holvoet is a senior researcher at Vlerick Business School. She focuses on innovation and disruption in the global financial services sector and is currently exploring new ways of knowledge sharing and experience exchange. Together with Prof Bjorn Cumps, she runs an annual 3-week FinTech Boot Camp for 50 Masters and MBA students.

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