3 Questions with Alfie van der Zwan of MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course

FintekNews is pleased to offer our weekly feature column “3 Questions”. Each week, we feature a thought leader within a unique sector of fintech and ask them to answer just 3 questions for our audience in their vernacular. This week we are pleased to introduce you to Alfie van der Zwan of MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course, an online course exposing students to topics such as the future of money; with disruptive technologies, like blockchain, leading to the rise of new currencies, innovation in financial markets and what’s going on with identity, privacy and security, and other areas of financial infrastructure.

Alfie van der Zwan
Head Mentor and Programme Manager
MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course

What is your role within your firm and what do you do there on any given day?

I am the Head Mentor and Programme Manager of the MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course and I work with an excellent team of Head Mentors at GetSmarter – the online learning provider for the course. On a daily basis, I interact with the MIT faculty, the Mentor Team, the team of Performance Coaches and many other GetSmarter teams to ensure we deliver the highest standard of online learning possible.

I also interact with our global audience of students, some of whom are experienced fintech professionals and entrepreneurs, others who are new to the field. The group of students changes with every 12-week course, allowing me to be in the privileged position of meeting and learning from new, innovative professionals all the time.

What has been the biggest failure in your firm and how did you adapt?

The biggest lesson for us at GetSmarter has been learning to scale operationally – to support such a large course of 1,000+ students in a personalized learning environment. We adapted through listening to our students, being fast in our response to issues, and nurturing an excellent support team.

At this stage though, in relation to the MIT Fintech: Future Commerce course, I would say that we are in the fortunate position that we haven’t had any major failures. I’m surrounded by people who have a wealth of fintech-specific and further academic support from the MIT faculty. They also have years of learning from their previous mistakes, so together we have been able to deliver a leading online learning experience through GetSmarter.

How do you feel consumers & businesses are adapting to the facet of fintech that your company operates within?

The relevant facet will be online education and I believe that people at the leading edge of their fields are always looking for new ways to learn and connect with other leaders. This course has been a ground breaker in the world of University-offered fintech online education. The fact that we have had over 2,000 students sign up for the course in less than 6 months tells us that people are eager to learn as much as they can about this subject.


Alfie van der Zwan – from Cape Town, South Africa – works with Red Bull on their startup academy, Cape Town Business School on designing and piloting a startup incubator and fills the role of Head Mentor on MIT and GetSmarter’s pioneering online course in Fintech: Future Commerce. He is also the founder of the mobile app “Mindful365”, and is passionate about the potential of emerging fintech trends to create large-scale change.