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Spring Speaker Series Summary: Financial Technology with Andrew Chapello

By Christina Garcia and Katie Roche

Technology is continuously evolving, but with these rapid changes it can be easy to overlook the cons by focusing on the new aspects. This is something that was demonstrated at the financial technology (FinTech) Spring Speaker Session hosted by Andrew Chapello. Andrew graduated from UIUC with a degree in Accounting and as a member of T&M Class XIV. He is currently working on financial software that has been criminally underserved by technologists as the Director of Product Management at FIS.

Andrew’s presentation hit a few points we wanted to highlight: first, the Casino Model. Andrew mentioned how casinos are a “perfect business” designed to bring in the most revenue. Everything in a casino is strategically placed from the bright colors and flashing lights to the carpet pattern made to disguise fallen chips which allows the “house to always win”. Similarly, Andrew tied this to gambling within FinTech by introducing Robinhood, a free trading platform, in which people now often buy stocks with a short term betting mindset as opposed to waiting for a long term profit. This can be seen with the recent short selling of GameStop, and recent spikes in Hertz and AMC stock. Like a casino, Andrew believes that these apps/businesses do not have the consumers best interest in mind and highlighted the point that people who trade more often do worse in the long run!

The second point covered was the power of social media and the influence that takes place in the FinTech realm. Andrew discussed the emergence of various investing apps, one being an app called “Public” which allows the user to share what stocks they were purchasing or planned to purchase with their friends, families, and account followers. This was tied with the “Elon Musk Effect”. It is said that anything he touches turns to “gold”, but in reality this is referring to the overwhelming amount of influence he has from his customers and overall fans on social media apps like Twitter. In the presentation, Andrew mentioned that Dogecoin was not well known or highly invested in until Elon Musk tweeted about it and the stocks increased dramatically. We did not realize how powerful influential figures, like Elon Musk, are within social media and the investing world. They are able to broadcast messages to persuade people, whether for good or bad, to either buy or invest in a certain product or even change the public’s opinion on a topic. A few days after Andrew’s conversation, Elon Musk tweeted “SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon”, which resulted in a noticeable increase in investments of Dogecoin after the tweet which proves how relevant his influence is.

Lastly, Andrew covered the topic of cryptography. This was a subject matter new to both of us, and we really enjoyed learning more about NFTs, non-fungible tokens, where people are able to purchase the rights to either a video, digital art, or audios and have complete rights of that digital item. Other cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, were also brought up as the overall idea of having digital types of internationally available currency. This aspect excited us both because as people who have traveled and sent money to family members in other countries, it can be a very overwhelming and expensive process to exchange currency abroad. It got us to think about and predict what the future could look like in terms of zero commission global currency, and we hope this sparks your interest as well!

This was the first “Spring Speaker Session” we both attended after being accepted into the program, and we loved learning about the advancements being made within Financial Technology. Going into the presentation, we didn’t know much about the financial realm, so we were excited to learn more about the key terms used when describing financial technology and hear Andrew’s perspective on where fintech is headed. Attending this session inspired us to learn more about upcoming technologies within the financial and accounting fields, as well as work on improving our financial literacy. We are both interested in investing in stocks, but if we learned one thing from Andrew’s presentation, it is the importance of doing research prior to making any major financial decisions. It is extremely important to educate yourself on these topics which is why we both can’t wait to continue attending the insightful lectures and speaker sessions put together by T&M to broaden our knowledge!

Katie Roche
Katie is a member of Class XXVII and a sophomore studying Materials Science and Engineering.

Christina Garcia
Christina is currently a sophomore studying Civil and Environmental Engineering and a member of Class XXVII.

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