The Lab that Spreads the Benefits of Financial Innovation

The Lab that Spreads the Benefits of Financial Innovation


Financial innovation has been characterized in recent years mainly by decentralization and the use of blockchains. For it to have positive spillovers and equitably distributed benefits, we must learn to separate scientific knowledge and marketing narrative.
“We need to be able to filter a rapid and relentless flow of information, decanting verified and useful knowledge,” says Claudio Tebaldi, Associate Professor of Finance at Bocconi and of Director of the new Algorand Fintech Lab.
“Financial innovation,” Professor Tebaldi continues, “is not just engineering or IT innovation, but also social innovation, an area where widespread knowledge, reliable policies and trust are central. If we build a well-designed bridge, it will hold up regardless of what the people who use it think about it, but a financial system needs the trust of participants.” Hence the lab's mission (fostering the adoption and regulation of new technologies to promote those financial applications that are most beneficial to society) and a social approach to finance which is unique in Europe.

The Algorand Fintech Lab's research areas are those destined to be most affected by the innovative wave of fintech technologies that, Tebaldi further says, “is changing the relationship between financial institutions, markets and society at its root." That is:
1.           Central banks' digital currency, monetary policy and macroeconomics.
2.           Crypto-assets and financial markets.
3.           Decentralized finance, financial institutions and services.
4.           Blockchain and society.
Among the research initiatives, the one that best embodies the desire to separate scientific knowledge and marketing narrative is a collaborative wiki project, on the lab's website. Since knowledge, in a rapidly evolving field, is often conveyed informally through social media, websites and not-yet published research from different disciplines, the lab's community will take charge of filtering that information, identifying and decanting the highest quality information. Students and junior researchers will be in charge of monitoring the flow, supplementing, if necessary, the most interesting information with bibliographies and contextual news, while more experienced scholars will play the role of validators, making that work available to the public.
The lab, the result of a collaboration between the University and Algorand Foundation, will be inaugurated, today, 14 September, and tomorrow, 15 September, with the Digital Innovation Meets Social Science @Bocconi meeting. The lab will be presented by its Director, while the keynote speech will be given by Silvio Micali, an MIT mathematician who was awarded the Turing Award in 2013 and founder of Algorand, a blockchain that, thanks to a low-energy and inexpensive consensus mechanism, aims to combine innovativeness and sustainability. The day will be closed by a panel discussion, coordinated by Stefano Caselli, Dean for International Affairs and Algebris Chair in Long-Term Investment and Absolute Return on “The Challenge to Shape a Tech Financial System,” with Silvia Attanasio (Head of Innovation, ABI), Paolo Ciocca (Commissioner, CONSOB), Massimo Morini (chief economist, Algorand Foundation), and Alessandra Perrazzelli (deputy governor, Bank of Italy).

The second day will be devoted to a series of inaugural lectures on fintech topics given by internationally renowned researchers.

by Fabio Todesco
Bocconi Knowledge newsletter


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