Dr Andrei Kirilenko, Director of the Centre for Global Finance & Technology and Senior Research Fellow at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis, explains how data is the new “natural resource”
Data is being mined like coal, refined like crude oil, stored in high security vaults like gold, and sold like rolled steel. The age of discovery of these new natural resources has arrived and fintech innovators are at the forefront of it. To help them on this journey, we have created a Centre for Global Finance & Technology at Imperial College Business School.
On 9 March 2016, a group of curious students and faculty gathered in an auditorium at Imperial College London to hear about financial technology innovation, otherwise known as fintech.
I was asked to open the event, which consisted of four brisk presentations followed by questions and answers with the presenters. It was all very ‘academicky’ with PowerPoint slides and scientific jargon, but there was also something almost rebellious about the whole thing.
For starters, the event was held not at the modern-looking glass structures occupied by the Business School, or the Data Science Institute, but at an old stone building called the Royal School of the Mines. I found it strangely appropriate though, because technology runs on data and data is really the new "natural resource". Data is being mined like coal, refined like crude oil, stored in high security vaults like gold, and sold like rolled steel.
London has been a place where money meets adventurers for centuries, and regulators are supportive of it
What was clear though is that the age of discovery of these new natural resources has arrived and fintech innovators are at the forefront of it. This is the age when new brands are being created (M-PESA), vast fortunes are being made (Uber) and lost (BlackBerry), and new alliances are being formed (R3).
Imperial College Business School is uniquely positioned to foster fintech developments. For one thing, it is located in London – and London has been a place where money meets adventurers for centuries, and regulators are supportive of it. For another, the Business School is part of Imperial College, a technology-based institution. Not a law school or liberal arts school, but a hardcore sand box for the geeks, who are in great demand right now. And, last but not least, many of Imperial’s graduates have ended up in the City of London – the global financial centre.
To connect practitioners, academics and regulators working on fintech, we have created a Centre for Global Finance and Technology at Imperial College Business School. The Centre is supporting top quality research on blockchain and digital payments, automated markets and high frequency trading, clearing, and other tech areas critical to modern finance. The research will then feed into new courses and executive education programmes at the Business School that can help foster a new generation of fintech experts and re-educate existing talent in new fintech ways.