Waikato University offers first fintech degree

New Zealand is behind the rest of the world when it comes to finance and technology, according to one expert, but Waikato University is hoping to close that gap.

The institution has introduced a New Zealand first with Bachelor of Banking, Finance & Technology (BBFinTech) being added to its program from next year.

Founder of leading fintech innovator Dosh and University of Waikato alumni, Shane Marsh said Fintech has grown expediently globally and is about to do so in New Zealand as well.

“The industry really needs the next generation of people to come through and help drive and shape the industry.

“We are behind the rest of the world for a number of reasons, New Zealand has not implemented regulations that have helped drive some of this change at the same speed as other countries.”

Marsh said it was a good time to get into the industry - whether that’s from a student learning perspective or from a career perspective, as Fintech’s in its infancy in New Zealand and the growth that’s been seen around the world is about to hit here.

“There’s a growing interest in cryptocurrency and the roles they can play. And then the general emergence of technology, like AI, will further shape some opportunities.

“So it’s a period of significant change that is underway and will take place in the coming decade. What we really need in the industry is people who really understand finance and understand tech, who are involved in helping to drive that change.”

Waikato Management School Pro Vice-Chancellor, Matt Bolger, said employers are increasingly needing people who can thrive in both finance and technology.

“The banking and finance world all run on digital technology tools and there is of course a lot of innovation around a lot of things in the finance and digital world - so we thought it was a really good opportunity to set people up for good careers.”

A 2022 Fintech Insights report found that the firms in their sample of 200 New Zealand tech companies generated a combined export revenue of $1.8 billion in 2022.

He said it’s taken about 18-months to two years to introduce the new programme.

“You need to get the support of all the universities in New Zealand to introduce a new programme like this - which we have. It actually takes a lot of work behind the scenes to design a qualification that’s going to be high quality and covering all the right areas.”

Bolger agrees the degree is a way to attract more students to the university.

“I try to catch up with students fairly regularly and get a handle on their experience. Students have a fantastic experience when they come to Waikato but we also know that we’re not as well known as some of the other universities, so we work hard to innovate and come up with great programmes.

“It will appeal to domestic students who are looking to get into the sector, it’s probably attractive to people looking to study abroad now the borders are open.“

First intake will be with semester A next year - with enrolments open now.

“We hope to have 30 to 50 students next year and grow from there”.

- Waikato Times

Article by Jo Lines-MacKenzie, Waikato Times: 5 November 2023