ICM313-FinTech and Digital Transformation in Financial Services

Module Provider: ICMA Centre
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: ICM107 Securities, Futures and Options and ICM108 Fixed Income and Equity Investments
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2021/2

Module Convenor: Prof George Alexandridis
Email: g.alexandridis@icmacentre.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module will be taught by Prof George Alexandridis, Prof Nick Mylonopoulos and Prof Markos Zachariadis

This module is available as an elective to MSc ISIB students as part of a 1-month study-abroad trip during the summer at ALBA Graduate Business School at the American College of Greece, in Athens, Greece. The study fees are covered by the ICMA Centre but the candidates are responsible for their travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses. Student accommodation can be arranged via the American college of Greece at student prices.

The principle aim of the module is to provide the students with practical and theoretical understanding of how the financial services industry has been transformed through the adoption and use of digital innovation and information technologies as well as the abundance of data. The module takes both an external perspective on technological and market developments, as well as an internal perspective on organizational transformation and new ways of working for innovation and agility. More specifically the module will look at the recent developments of FinTech innovation for accounts and payments, digital transformation in banking, new ways of value exchange based on digital tokens (e.g. cryptocurrencies, ICOs, etc.) and shared-leger (e.g. blockchain) technologies, and case studies of artificial intelligence and big data in finance. Some of the relevant financial regulations in the UK and the EU (e.g. OBWG, PSD2, GDPR, MIFIDII, Dodd-Frank, etc.) will also be explored to understand how they affect developments in the sector. The module also addresses how banks and financial institutions adapt their internal structures and management processes in order to instil the culture and capabilities for continuous innovation and strategic agility in the face of technological disruption. Students will get exposed to the principles of design thinking and will practice some of the most common story mapping techniques. In addition, they will learn the principles of experimentation and validated learning (lean entrepreneurship) and they will practice the techniques of agile team work in product development, in a workshop using Lego bricks.  Participants will also gain exposure to how Fintech innovation is being developed and applied in practice by visiting innovation hubs based in large financial institutions in Greece, speak to FinTech startup entrepreneurs from the Athens FinTech ecosystem, and attend guest talks by digital banking experts. They will also take part in a bespoke “digital banking challenge” whereby they have to work as part of a team to produce a mock mobile application of a digital bank and pitch it to a panel of digital banking experts from the industry and academia who will assess the feasibility and originality of the ideas as well as business potential.


The principle aim of the module is to provide the students with practical and theoretical understanding of how the financial services industry has been transformed through the adoption and use of digital innovation and information technologies as well as the abundance of data.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • Critically discuss digital innovation and information technology (IT) characteristics and their disruptive potential for the various sub-industries in the financial services sector.

  • Critically evaluate and recommend organizational changes for promoting strategic agility and competitiveness in the face of technological disruption.

  • Critically discuss the la test technological developments in finance (e.g. open APIs, blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc.) and assess the impact of technology and big data on some of the processes and business models.

  • Explain some of the different financial regulations (e.g. OBWG, PSD2, GDPR, MIFIDII, Dodd-Frank, etc.) and how they relate to data and IT.

  • Evaluate the new and emerging business models that can be adopted by financial institutions as they digitize their processes and pa rts of their value chain and respond to new regulations.

  • Assess fintech startup ideas and critically discuss how they make use of new technologies that provide a better customer experience or create efficiencies.

  • Apply the principles and practices of design thinking and agile product development in the process of prototyping a fintech product/service.

  • Build and pitch a comprehensive mock-up for a fintech product/service and get a glimpse of how to strategize and develop fintech innovations in finance.

Additional outcomes:

The module also aims to encourage teamwork and communication skills via case study methods and group assignments. Students will get exposure to using technology and designing new tools and services.

Outline content:

  1. Module presentation and introduction to Digital innovation and ICT in Finance (FinTech)

  2. Enterprise Innovation & Digital transformation in financial services

  3. Principles of Design Thinking; Story Mapping workshop

  4. Lean entrepreneurship and Agile product development: theory and workshop

  5. The future of banking: Digital & Open Banking and FinTech startup ecosystems.

  6. Payment technologies and systems a nd the role of financial messaging standards.

  7. Introduction to cryptocurrencies. Application of blockchain technologies in finance.

  8. Big Data & artificial intelligence in finance. Regulatory frameworks in financial services and the need for transparency.

  9. Workshop: “Fintech entrepreneurship and (digital) product development” (6-hours)

  10. Dragon's Den pitch on digital banking mobile app

Global context:

The module is focused on the UK and European markets but also extensively utilises cases and examples from other countries such as the US market.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Lectures are designed to offer a practical understanding of the topics

Practical classes will be used to discuss non-assessed problem sets and case studies. There will be 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of practical sessions. The module will be delivered in 4xhour blocks.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Practicals classes and workshops 10
External visits 10
Guided independent study:      
    Wider reading (independent) 50
    Preparation for presentations 40
    Essay preparation 70
Total hours by term 0 0 200
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 40
Practical skills assessment 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • A group output mock mobile application/demo (designed and delivered through proto.io) and project presentation/pitch in class (max 15 slides and demo presentation): 60% of the total final assessment mark. This is typically scheduled for mid-July

  • Individual performance at group presentation and individual reflection of the group wok/presentation: 40% of the total assignment mark

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidepg.aspx

Where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days.

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A minimum total mark of 50% for the module

Reassessment arrangements:

Through individual project to be submitted in August of the same year.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Travel, accommodation and subsistence: £1600

Last updated: 25 November 2021


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