The CFA Institute, which offers a certification of expertise in finance, is adding blockchain and cryptocurrencies to its curriculum next year. According to a Bloomberg report, the Institute plans to release material for the new topics in August this year. (See also: What Is A CFA?)

Reading about blockchain and cryptocurrencies will be included in a topic called Fintech in Investment Management. The Institute is also adding a discussion related to cryptocurrencies in its reading on professional ethics. Regulatory uncertainty about cryptocurrencies should make this an interesting topic of study for students who focus on financial regulation. The cryptocurrency industry’s numerous hacks and scandals should also provide fertile material for students to study the absence of ethics in cryptocurrencies. Stephen Horan, managing director of general education and curriculum at CFA Institute, told Bloomberg that the field of cryptocurrencies was “advancing more quickly than other fields”. “This is not a passing fad,” he said. 

An Education In Cryptocurrencies

The CFA Institute's decision to include cryptocurrencies and blockchain in its curriculum represents a further mainstreaming of the industry. But this one might be one of the most important since it will help demystify cryptocurrencies to students. 

As much as they’ve gained popularity in the last year, cryptocurrencies still remain a puzzle for most investors. This is partly because they combine two separate but related fields: finance and computer science. The concepts underlying cryptocurrencies are those of finance but their execution is uniquely based on computer science. The melding of two different fields has resulted in an industry that has become infamous for being opaque and difficult to understand. While analyst firms have offered differing interpretations of bitcoin, a standardized framework to assess and value cryptocurrencies is still absent. The rapid pace of new developments within the cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystems, such as Lightning Network, has further complicated matters. The CFA Institute’s initiative should be evaluated within this context. (See also: Bitcoin Is The New Gold: Goldman Sachs). 

The course’s emphasis on blockchain will also serve students well. “It will be beneficial for us, since there’s been a huge expansion and adoption of crypto in our investment universe,” Kayden Lee, a fund analyst intern in Singapore told Bloomberg. “But more importantly the focus is on fintech and blockchain. How it works to improve, unravel or even disrupt certain sectors.”

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