News

Jun 21, 2018

New Online Course Explains Fintech Law and Policy for Entrepreneurs

Courtney Lockemer

Bitcoin, SoFi, Credit Karma, PayPal, and yes, Potcoin: these are some of the news-making names in the growing industry known as fintech. Fintech, short for “financial technology,” has upended the traditional banking industry over the last several years with new digital products like cryptocurrencies, online lending and artificial intelligence-driven wealth management.


Investment in fintech startups has grown steadily in recent years, as has interest in fintech careers from software developers, MBAs and entrepreneurs.

But daring entrepreneurs beware; while technology startups in other sectors may predicate their their business on breaking rules, doing so in the highly regulated financial sector can sink a nascent business.

Lee Reiners, executive director of the Global Financial Markets Center at Duke University School of Law, hopes to help entrepreneurs before that happens. He has created a new open online course that aims to give anyone interested in fintech a foundational understanding of the laws and regulations applicable to the industry. The course, Fintech Law and Policy, launches June 25 on Coursera.

“Understanding the legal and regulatory framework applicable to new financial technologies is critical to the long-term success of any fintech startup,” said Reiners. “Fintech companies that begin operating with a firm grasp of the laws and regulations applicable to their business can not only avoid the pitfalls that have ensnared many a fintech before them, but also gain a competitive advantage and make the company a more attractive investment for venture capital firms and other potential investors.”

Lee Reiners teaching
Duke Law School’s Lee Reiners explains concepts like laws applying to mobile payments in “Fintech Law and Policy.”

While there are existing MOOCs focused on the technologies underpinning the fintech revolution, this is the first open online course focused on how these technologies fit within the current financial regulatory framework.

In the course, Reiners covers the critical legal, regulatory, and policy issues associated with cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, online lending, new payments and wealth management technologies, and financial account aggregators. He also explains how regulatory agencies in the U.S. are continually adjusting to the emergence of new financial technologies and key policy debates happening at both the federal and state level.

If the idea of a cryptocurrency alone is hard to grasp, Reiners says not to worry—each course section begins with a high-level overview of the underlying technology suitable for novices.

“Regulatory and policy professionals and those in the legal field may find the overviews on how new financial technologies work to be of particular value,” said Reiners.

Pre-enrollment for the course is now open on the Coursera website.