Level of Study
Objectives and Content
The course introduces students to recent advances in the fintech area, and will focus on key concepts and theoretical underpinnings of financial intermediation, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies.
The primary focus of this course is on fintech (such as peer-to-peer platforms), blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, which are perhaps the most significant innovations in finance in recent years. Peer-to-peer platforms have introduced new forms of lending, and are believed to have democratized finance. Blockchain has disrupted traditional financial services by introducing decentralized, peer-to-peer forms of financing that affect banks, stock exchanges, venture capitalists, private equity firms, and other financial intermediaries. It is now widely speculated that these legacy incumbents will gradually disappear in coming decades as new fintech platforms and blockchain-based financing methods such as initial coin offerings (ICO) become popular and more widely available.
We will begin by formulating the basics of financial intermediation, the economic role played by banks and other financial intermediaries, and the benefits and drawbacks of their services. We will then study disintermediation and the emergence of peer-to-peer platforms. Next, we will explore the advent of trustless, decentralized cryptocurrencies beginning with Bitcoin, and its impact on various financing innovations (such as ICOs) and investments. We will also explore whether cryptocurrencies can truly function as alternative forms of money, and how they pose a threat to incumbent financial intermediaries and even to central banks and regulators. We will then study ICOs, understand how their tokenized architecture aligns growth incentives and ensures competition, the investment risks associated with ICOs, and regulatory responses to this recent innovation.
A student who has completed the course should have the following learning outcomes:
- has basic knowledge of financial intermediation and related theories.
- has basic understanding of the role of banks and other intermediaries in traditional financial markets.
- has knowledge of how firms raise external finance, and how they raise capital in public markets.
- has basic knowledge of smart contracts and tokens, and understand their network effects.
- has basic knowledge of wallets and how to use them to transact in cryptocurrencies and tokens.
The student can:
- explain the benefits and drawbacks of traditional financial intermediation.
- describe recent trends and innovation in financial intermediation.
- explain the difference between reintermediation and disintermediation.
- develop an overview of blockchain technology and how trust is achieved in decentralized networks.
- explain the motives and objectives for the introduction of Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
- explain the relationship and differences between cryptocurrencies and fiat money.
- Understand the pros and cons of initial coin offerings (ICO), and explain the factors contributing to their phenomenal growth in recent years.
- Understand the various mechanisms through which regulatory authorities of different countries have attempted to regulate cryptocurrencies and ICOs.
- understands the crucial role played by financial intermediaries in firms' going public decision.
- understands the relationship between intermediation and blockchain / cryptocurrencies.
- understands the mechanisms through which tokenization and blockchain can potentially disrupt the market power of incumbent businesses.
- understands the pros and cons of initial coin offerings (ICO), and explains the factors contributing to their phenomenal growth in recent years.
- understands the various mechanisms through which regulatory authorities of different countries have attempted to regulate cryptocurrencies and ICOs.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Recommended taken third academic year at bachelor level
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
ITØK264: 10 ECTS
Access to the Course
Teaching and learning methods
The course consists of a mix of regular lectures and seminars, and strongly emphasizes students being active throughout the course, both individually and in groups.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
One compulsory assignment.
Compulsory assignments that are not accepted on the first try, may be handed in a second time. To be able to get this opportunity, the student must have made a sincere effort the first time around; that is, the student must have tried to answer most of the assignment.
Approved compulsory requirements do not have time limits.
Forms of Assessment
Portfolio assessment. The grade awarded will be:
- 50% based on a case study assignment written in group at the maximum of 3500 words and
- 50% based on an 4 hours written exam
Updated: Change of assessment form spring 2021 from written exam to 4 hours take home exam as part of the measures to limit the risk of corona infection. Case study assignment as normal
Examination Support Material
Mathematical Formula Collection of K Sydsæter, A. Strøm and P. Berck or Mathematical Formulas for Economists of B Luderer, V. Nollau and K. Vetters and calculator. The following simple, non-programmable calculators without graphical display are allowed to be used for written tests:
All models of the type:
- Casio FX-82, Casio FX-82ES PLUS or Casio FX-82EX
- Hewlett-Packard HP30
- Texas Instruments TI-30
Assessment in teaching semester. New written exam the following semester only for students who have a valid document of absence.
The reading list will be ready by June 1 for the Autumn semester and December 1 for the Spring semester.
All courses are evaluated according to UiB's system for quality assurance of education.
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.
The course coordinator and administrative contact person can be found on Mitt UiB.
The Department of Economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.
Department of Economics