New Center for Digital and Finance Technologies Launches at Columbia Engineering

Focused on technologies for decentralizing and democratizing the financial sector, the Center will bring together experts in academia, industry, and government to address key questions for the future of finance.

Sep 06 2022
Digital illustration of nodes, edges, and drawings that represent networks and security.

The digitization of finance driven by new innovations such as the blockchain are posing new challenges and questions for traditional financial frameworks and regulations. At the same time, these new technologies hold opportunities to decentralize and democratize financial systems, making them fairer and more accessible. 

At Columbia Engineering, the new Center for Digital Finance and Technologies is seeking to better understand this pivotal moment to help industry, government, and society leverage these technologies for the social good. The director of the new center is Agostino Capponi, an associate professor in the department of industrial engineering and operations research and an expert in financial technology and the economics of distributed ledgers. He envisions an ecosystem of teaching, research, and outreach that can break down current bottlenecks and obstacles in the way of widespread adoption of these technologies.  

We are in the midst of a digital financial revolution and the Center will be a hub to investigate ways to make this innovation scalable and accessible, particularly for the large section of society that is currently unbanked.

Agostino Capponi
Center director 

“The financial sector is evolving quickly and there is an urgent need for deeper understanding among participants and regulators to keep pace with innovation,” said Capponi. “We are in the midst of a digital financial revolution and the Center will be a hub to investigate ways to make this innovation scalable and accessible, particularly for the large section of society that is currently unbanked.”  

The Center will explore emerging financial technologies and digital assets, advancing knowledge in everything from crypto tokens and securities, decentralized finance, blockchain consensus protocols, regulation, and blockchain market design. The Center has five initial industry and foundation partners on board: Ripple, the Global Risk Institute, Stellar Development Foundation, the Ethereum Foundation, and the Arcane Group. It plans to bring on more partners who share the Center’s mission and goals. 

“True innovation happens at the convergence of disciplines,” says Shih-Fu Chang, Dean of Columbia Engineering. “By bringing together computer and data scientists, economists, and experts in operations research and the financial sector, we will be able to make advances in addressing some of the most important questions in the area of fintech and decentralized finance.” 

Together with Columbia Business School, the Center will host the Columbia Digital Finance Seminar Series focused on the latest developments in crypto and blockchain economics. The Center will also be co-organizing the 3rd Annual Crypto and Blockchain Economics conference on May 5, 2023.