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Haas FinTech Club At UC Berkeley Inspires Students To Question The Status Quo

Haas FinTech Club At UC Berkeley Inspires Students To Question The Status Quo

When Ashley Lannquist, Scarlett Li, Ricky Tan, Matt Mueller, and Leah Staub-deLong realized the inefficiencies of money movement in the world, they decided to take on the challenge of spreading awareness and teaching about change and improvement to financial technology in the world. In August 2016, they founded the Haas FinTech club at the University of California Berkeley, just across the Bay from the site of the Benzinga Fintech Summit.

Currently led by Lannquist and fellow co-presidents Blakey Larsen and Caitlyn Driehorst, Haas FinTech is an extension of the university's Haas School of Business. Although the club has only been around for a year, the Haas School of Business has been interested in the field for a while.

What Haas FinTech Is, And Why The Members Matter

“This club has contained this interest (of fintech) and formalized the support of students with that interest, but it’s not a new interest,” Larsen said in an interview with Benzinga.

The club, which consists of over 150 members, hosts events and meetings designed to build upon three core values: education, career building and networking. In the 2016–2017 school year alone, Haas FinTech hosted 16 events. It plans to host at least 30 during the 2017–2018 school year.

The three event types Haas FinTech hosts are teach-ins, company treks and live speaking presentations.

Teach-ins are put on to teach club members about fintech and to disseminate new information about developments in the fintech industry. An example of a teach-in that the club has put on is a presentation titled “Blockchain: All You Need to Know Before You Graduate.”

Student Body Interest

Larsen went on to explain how this particular event helped spur interest and membership from fellow students.

“You cannot graduate from a business school in 2017 and not know that the blockchain is going to influence your industry in the next 10 years, no matter what industry that is. That was actually targeted to not club members, but I think a lot of people joined after that once they say some of the value.”

Company treks give Haas FinTech members the opportunity to connect with local fintech companies and promote the future generation of fintech. Past company treks include trips to NerdWallet, Credit Karma, Visa Inc (NYSE: V) and Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL).

Haas FinTech has also brought in some of the biggest names in fintech for speaking presentations. Featured speakers include Ripple Labs Inc.’s CEO Chris Larsen and Pantera Capital’s Paul Veradittakit.

Haas FinTech Focus: Money Movement And Crypto

Although there are many different sectors of fintech, one of the club’s main interests is money movement and cryptocurrencies.

“One of the things we focus on is how to get smart regulation on cryptocurrencies because, similar to the internet in the 1990s, it’s happening. So what can we do to encourage legitimacy so it can grow and be equitable instead of pushing it into a black market?” Larsen posed.

However, students aren’t keyholed to just one area of fintech. Opportunities in lending, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other subsectors of fintech are likewise pursued by students. That said, one common theme runs throughout the entire club.

“One of Haas’ defining principles is [to] question the status quo, and I feel like fintech really embodies that because we are changing traditional financial services that are headed right for destruction. Using technology to do that is the theme. So, the interests of the students [vary] a lot but stays on that one theme.”

Fintech is changing the way people do business, and the future of this revolution is the young men and women in higher education. As more people recognize this, more organizations will be formed, centralized on fintech innovation.

Change Starts Small

Larsen, Lannquist and Driehorst are some of the first to bring this trend to the students of California, a growing hub for fintech transformation. The three realize how important it is for students, and everyone else, to understand technology and its impact on the financial services going forward.

“Everyone should have a basic level of comfort and familiarity with technology in order to push fintech forward. I think that a larger trend is that technology is changing the way that we are able to do things.”

If you’re looking for cool fintech start-ups and access to top financial institutions, and are sick of attending stuffy corporate conferences, the Benzinga Fintech Summit is the event for you. Visit for more details.

Connect with us on social media — use the hashtag #BZsummit and #Fintech to spread the word!


Image Credit: "Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley," By Minesweeper at English Wikipedia [Public domain],

Posted-In: Ashley Lannquist Benzinga Fintech SummitFintech Education Top Stories Exclusives Interview General Best of Benzinga


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