KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 8, 2021
To help prepare students for jobs in Georgia’s fast-growing financial technology sector, Kennesaw State University has leveraged its partnership with the Georgia FinTech Academy to launch an academic minor in fintech beginning Fall 2021. This is the first program of its kind in the state.
Open to Kennesaw State students of all majors, the fintech minor will focus on digital payments, a variety of non-cash transactions that include credit and debit cards, PayPal, ApplePay, and other mobile wallet platforms. Faculty in the Michael J. Coles College of Business and the College of Computing and Software Engineering have created four new courses for the program, each focusing on the digital payments area of financial technology. These courses join five others on data analytics, information security, and financial services.
“The fintech industry is critical to so much of the economy,” said Humayun Zafar, program coordinator of Kennesaw State’s fintech program and a professor of information security and assurance. “Transactions are only going to continue evolving digitally. We are not going back to cash. We’ve seen this happening for years and COVID has accelerated it.”
According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, 118 billion digital transactions – or 70 percent of the total U.S. volume – are processed by more than 170 fintech companies based in Georgia. Given the volume, companies including FIS Global, NCR, Equifax, Fiserv, and Global Payments are creating new fintech jobs at the rate of an estimated 1,000 annually.
Kennesaw State’s fintech minor is an extension of the University’s involvement in the Georgia FinTech Academy, a statewide initiative to create a talent pipeline for Georgia’s fintech industry. Made possible by a significant contribution by FIS Global, the world’s largest payment processing firm, the academy offers students across the University System of Georgia access to online fintech courses designed alongside employers to address current talent needs.
“Kennesaw State has been an integral partner to the development of the academy’s digital payments courses,” said Tommy Marshall, executive director of the Georgia FinTech Academy. “A lot of that has to do with how they have partnered with large fintech companies for years to develop computer science, data analytics, and accounting talent. The new minor is a way to amplify those meaningful efforts, courses, and projects that have allowed KSU to engage with the fintech community.”
Despite being a tech-heavy field, the fintech industry needs professionals with a variety of skills.
“FinTech is not just for business and computer science students,” Zafar said. “The financial sector is heavily regulated. Every decision has policies, laws, and legal ramifications to consider, and you don’t have to be a technology person to excel in those areas. The fintech minor is just as interesting a proposition whether students study architecture or humanities.”
Kennesaw State has offered fintech courses as electives since 2019 and has encouraged students to attend Georgia FinTech Academy events and workshops. Philip Audinet, a junior information security and assurance major, recently attended an academy event on trends and growth in fintech, which led him to consider the minor.
“For me, it’s about employability,” Audinet said. “Having a minor in a fast-growing industry is a great way to get ahead. My career goal is to become a chief information security officer, and every company needs people knowledgeable about financial services.”
With Georgia’s fintech industry experiencing explosive growth and providing a wealth of high-paying employment opportunities, Zafar said the most exciting part about minoring in FinTech is being on the ground floor of an emerging industry.
“This is one of the few times where industry and academia are on the same page when it comes to understanding an industry,” Zafar said. “In most fields, industry is ahead of the curve. But both sides are currently working out what fintech is going to look like. Our students have the chance to help shape the industry’s direction.”
– Patrick Harbin
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.