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USF launches free, ‘transformative’ fintech course

Mark Parker



Michael Wiemer, director of the Fintech Center at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg's Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, speaks at an event. Photo provided.

Researchers believe financial technology revenues will soar from $245 billion in 2023 to $1.5 trillion by 2030, and the University of South Florida is preparing people for the industry’s impact.

A new online certification program will provide students, entrepreneurs and working professionals with a foundational understanding of financial technology, commonly known as fintech. The university’s Muma College of Business developed the free eight-week course.

The first module for “The Impact of Fintech: AI, Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of Business” opened Tuesday. Participants receive a digital certificate upon completing the self-paced course.

“Fintech is something that is truly transformative,” said Michael Wiemer, director of USF’s Fintech Center at the St. Petersburg campus. “It is not a temporary bubble.”

The Fintech Center at the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance opened in April 2022, two months after its namesake and Ellen Cotton bestowed $14 million to help the facility become a financial technology educational hub. Wiemer said leadership would soon announce official degree programs but first wanted to offer something supporting “all learners.”

From left: Moez Limayem, former dean of the USF Muma College of Business; Ellen Cotton and Kate Tiedemann, philanthropists; USF President Rhea Law; House Speaker Chris Sprowls; and Mayor Ken Welch at the Fintech Center’s opening celebration in April 2022. Photo by Mark Parker.

The free course is accessible at any time. New modules open weekly and conclude with a quiz.

USF is a public, preeminent research university, and the Fintech Center is within eyesight of downtown St. Petersburg. Wiemer stressed the importance of providing the surrounding community with a balanced, foundational understanding of the rapidly emerging – and evolving – industry.

“It’s (fintech) actually one of the most exciting and dynamic aspects of business today,” he added. “It is a permanent shift forward in the way that we do business, the way that we think about business and the way that we operate in our daily lives.”

Following the recently released introduction, course modules include Demystifying Blockchain; Banking and Financial Services; Cryptocurrency and NFT (non-fungible token) Fundamentals; Insurtech (insurance technology), Supply Chain and Professional Sports; The Emerging Legal and Regulatory Environment; and Mapping the Future of FinTech, a two-part conclusion.

Wiemer said the enrollment process is simple, and anyone can register. He noted that the “low-pressure” course is nontechnical and accessible for professionals working in a fast-paced environment or people concluding their careers.

Wiemer said the program provides a 360-degree view of fintech and highlights its potential. Several industry experts will aid faculty in those efforts.

Guest lecturers include leadership from Raymond James Financial, the Florida Blockchain Association, Boston Consulting Group, Visa and U.S. Bank. Wiemer said they would share insight on how their respective organizations utilize fintech.

“These are really diverse industries, and they’re all embracing fintech robustly in very transformational and competitive ways,” he explained. “To not have industry perspectives is leaving half of the equation unwritten.”

Wiemer said USF will begin offering a fintech master’s degree in 2025 and launch an undergraduate program in 2026. He believes the online course will help people decide if they want to make those commitments.

“At the very least, it will bring upskilling and valuable knowledge to a person who may be applying this information in a work setting,” Wiemer said. He also noted that those who start the course late can catch up on missed modules.

Wiemer said the program “builds up to a crescendo.” The final module will tie previous aspects together and foster “life-long learning, whether in fintech or other domains,” he said.

Wiemer said the course could also influence a career change. “So, it’s a launchpad for greater things, and that’s why I like it so much,” he added.

USF has partnered with Tampa Bay Wave on a Fintech|X Accelerator program to help related startups become sustainable and profitable businesses. Over 30 global, early-stage companies have participated in its cohorts over the past two years.

Wiemer credited Tiedemann and Cotton’s gift for establishing the Fintech Center, supporting new hires and allowing school leadership to offer the free course. “This is something that, for us, is a way of showing our gratitude,” he said.

“These two people – Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton – have recognized the profound impact that fintech is having,” Wimer said. “And as successful businesspeople themselves, they can see the future in ways that others can’t sometimes.

“Their thoughtfulness and generosity run deep.”




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  1. Avatar

    Bruce Kamm

    April 3, 2024at6:56 pm

    Kudos for providing people with a free course to foster insight and knowledge about fintech, and how it is changing the world. Not only is fintech changing the way that we do business, and the way that we think about business, it’s changing the way we function in our daily lives, as its changing finance, payments, and money as we know it today.

    Banks are closing branches, NeoBanks are proliferating worldwide as digital fintech companies partnering with traditional banks for their back end regulatory services and licensing. Money is becoming digital, so why bother using paper currency, when digital money and stablecoins in your mobile phone can be used for instant P2P payments locally and worldwide.

    The future of money is anti-inflationary, devaluation resistant, Real World Assets; digital silver, gold, and diamonds as sound money. Non-governmental, no more processing fees paid by merchants to accept credit cards, and P2P payments that eliminate banks and intermediaries that charge significant wire fees, transfer fees, and FX currency conversion fees for cross border transactions. Decentralization of money, by the people for the people, is returning silver and gold that stood the test of time, to its historic prominence as money.

  2. Avatar


    April 3, 2024at4:16 pm

    Sounds like a great opportunity!

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