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Fintech School ‘a sweet deal’ for island

Fintech learning: Amilcar Chavarria, chief executive officer of The Fintech School (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Bermuda Government struck a “very sweet deal” when it paid $10,000 to allow residents of the island to access online courses offered by FinTech School, the organisation’s chief executive officer told The Royal Gazette.

Amilcar Chavarria was on-island this week along with the San Francisco-based company’s head of marketing, Deep Kakkad, to present a free, two-day ‘fundamentals of fintech’ training session for college and university students of any age.

FinTech School, which says on its website that it is not an academic institution, was started more than three years ago by serial entrepreneurs and former Wall Street professionals to provide practical fintech training. Mr Chavarria said he bought the organisation’s domain name seven years ago.

FinTech School’s mission is to improve financial literacy, spur economic growth, and bank the unbanked by providing fintech and blockchain training and content to financial institutions, governments, universities and individuals.

Mr Chavarria said more than 250 Bermuda residents had so far taken more than 500 online courses.

“It’s $10,000 to train an entire country,” Mr Chavarria said. “Based on useage so far, we would have charged $50,000. That $40,000 difference is our contribution to our mission — it’s walking the talk. We gave Bermuda a very sweet deal on a countrywide licence to train Bermudians and thereby create jobs and economic growth.”

The initial six-month licence term expires at midnight on November 17 but Mr Chavarria said “we are thinking of expanding it because it’s going really well. We are pleased with the level of take-up. We are also very pleased that Dr Gina Tucker is the internal champion. She cares about education and providing opportunities for Bermudians.”

Mr Chavarria said a handshake agreement in San Francisco included a promise by him to the Government that FinTech School would place two Bermudians in fintech jobs by the end of 2019.

This week, he says, “we expanded the number of jobs by the end of the year to five people, here or abroad, all in fintech. That will grow the local industry, and increase awareness of Bermudian talent and the new blockchain laws here, so that new fintech companies will establish themselves in Bermuda and create jobs, leading to economic growth. We want to be part of that story.”

This week’s two-day session attracted 33 students, Mr Chavarria said. In addition to the fintech fundamentals training, he says the organisation delivered a career development workshop, as well as assistance in the form of mock job interviews and help with resumes. He and Mr Kakkad collected “seven or eight” resumes from attendees.

Mr Chavarria said: “The feedback from participants, and they weren’t just being polite because we also heard it from third parties, was very positive.”

The nine courses offered online by FinTech School include six introductory courses — blockchain, crowdfunding, robo-advisers, insurtech, start-ups, and stablecoin — as well as alternative lending, emerging markets, AI in fintech, and blockchain essentials. Courses under development include fintech core 101, regulation for fintech, payments and transfers 101, alternative lending 101, and blockchain 201.

Mr Chavarria says FinTech School will issue a certificate of completion for any individual who takes all nine courses offered. The courses are not accredited, and do not end with exams. “Some courses have quizzes,” Mr Chavarria said.

He said taking online courses can also assist with employment prospects. “It will get you in the door provided you give the right level of effort,” he said. “Bermuda contracted with us to generate employment — that’s why we came here.”

Mr Chavarria said he and Mr Kakkad charged only for their travel expenses this week. “We wanted to show our value, prove that we are the right partners in the long run,” Mr Chavarria says.

He and Mr Kakkad are set to return to the island in October for TechWeek, at which they plan to present an infographic “Why Bermuda” to support the island’s fintech industry awareness efforts.

Interested persons should go to www.fintech.bm/freetraining to access the online courses. The code for those who wish to access the courses online in Bermuda only, is “FTB”.