Computing for the Common Good – College of Information and Computer Sciences Partners in Mass Fintech Hub

UMass Amherst’s College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) has joined a just-launched collaboration, called Mass Fintech Hub – a public-private partnership whose aim is to position Massachusetts as a leader in the financial technology industry.

Fintech, or applying cutting-edge technology to create innovative financial services, is among the employment sectors enjoying rapid growth. “Technology is enabling the disruption of traditional financial services,” says Jim Flynn, assistant dean for research business development at CICS. “Fintech is unlocking value, and UMass Amherst is uniquely positioned to help make Massachusetts the world’s leading hub for fintech.”

In the past, a few big companies dominated most financial sectors. Costs were high, service was slow, and choices were limited. Worse, only the privileged had access to financial services. There are, for example, billions of people globally and millions in the U.S. who do not have access to basic services like checking accounts and loans. “But today,” says Flynn, “digital technologies give fintech companies global reach and scale, and AI improves quality and speed. All this helps make revolutionary business models possible.”

CICS has emerged as a leader in AI and machine learning, and Flynn, who runs the Talent, Academics, and Diversity workstream at Mass Fintech Hub, has seen a number of projects sprout between corporate partners, UMass collaborators, and students. He has also helped place CICS grads in fintech careers.

Mass Fintech Hub is a network of 27 leaders co-chaired by Massachusetts’s Housing and Economic Development Secretary, Mike Kennealy, and Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S. The new collaboration will assist in addressing key challenges in the fintech industry, including increasing access to capital and enhancing collaboration among the state's largest financial institutions, startups, investors, nonprofits and academia. The Mass Fintech Hub will be operated by FinTech Sandbox, a Boston-based nonprofit and member of the Fintech Working Group.

“The Mass Fintech Hub will serve as the central platform for Massachusetts to embrace bold thinking, drive innovation, and provide necessary support to build a strong, stable foundation in Massachusetts for this key industry for the long term,” said Secretary Kennealy.

For Flynn, one of the additional core challenges is to increase diversity within fintech. Though other Massachusetts universities have joined Mass Fintech Hub, UMass is the only institution for public education in the collaboration. “In keeping with the CICS emphasis on Computing for the Common Good’ we’ll be running coaching and mentoring programs so that a diverse cohort of Massachusetts residents can join this growing source of employment opportunities and wealth creation,” says Flynn.

Though he’s originally from New York, Flynn has great faith in the Bay State. “We can compete with New York City,” he says, and notes that Massachusetts is currently ranked third in the U.S. by Findexable, a global fintech research and analytics firm. “We have the world’s best universities, which gives us a world-class talent pool. Massachusetts can lead the world in fintech, and Mass Fintech Hub is the partnership that can help make it happen.”