Opinion

Fintech Comes to Wake

A new club – hosting roundtable discussions on the intersection of finance and technology (FinTech), has made its way onto campus at Wake Forest.
The Wake Fintech club was co-founded by a diverse group of students across majors and graduation dates.  The club is of particular interest to the Wake Forest Review due to their emphasis on core principles like decentralization, identity management, and data security.

 

Since its inception and charter last semester, WakeFintech.club has seen notable growth in interest and participation by both the student body and the wider fintech industry.  In their first semester, the club focused its efforts bidirectionally, building both digital and on-campus platforms – growing quickly to over 20 active members with a 220 person mailing-list.

In their short-time on campus, the club has accomplished a remarkable amount of organizational feats.  On its website, the club identifies four hotbeds for potential disruption – namely Mobile Banking, Quantitative Trading, Enterprise Blockchains, and Cryptocurrencies.

Rather than a focusing on the current state of banking, investment, and transaction industry – the FinTech club is focused on the ways in which the financial sector can be disrupted and changed.

They have hosted student-led seminars on topics like public-key cryptography, NFC and ‘Contactless’ payment standards (ISO/IEC 14443 and 18092) the ICO arena, and the longevity of blockchain currencies such as bitcoin.

When asked about blockchain as a future standard for value exchanges, President and Co-Founder Kevin Leffew stated, “Decentralized, encryption schemes built on blockchain create a standard where ‘code is law’.  In public blockchains, or those that are open to participation by any device in the world – there exists no central point of failure – making them an example of a system with high byzantine fault tolerance.“

When asked about potential blockchain use cases, Ted Yerdon, the club’s Vice President responded, “The decentralized consensus model makes blockchain a great use case for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, identity management transaction processing and proving provenance.  This offers the potential for mass disintermediation of trusted authorities.”

One of the group’s big projects for this semester is the creation of a quantitative trading algorithm that takes advantage of bitcoin’s price volatility and the inverse price relation between the forex market for USD/Yuan exchange.  The club is working with Prof. Howard, a finance professor in the business school, to build this trading algorithm based off of a Generalized Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity (GARCH) statistical model – using historical market data to backtest it.

Looking forward, Wake Fintech hopes to play a key role in helping students to understand the emerging markets surrounding financial disruption. Rooted in principles like decentralization, identity management, and data security, Wake Fintech provides students with an excellent opportunity to understand and leverage cutting-edge technology in a way that will help them in the career trek.

Upon foundation, one of the club’s key goals was to facilitate both conversation and understanding of the evolving nature of both finance and technology–a mission that it hopes to carry forward for years to come.
For more information on the organization, check out their website at wakefintech.club and their write-ups at articles.wakefintech.club.

Submitted by Kevin Leffew (’17). 

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