Netherlands, Amsterdam

Challenging the Banks: from Microfinance to Fintech (in collaboration with Maastricht University)

when 16 July 2016 - 30 July 2016
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

Using its prime location in Amsterdam, an innovative financial centre and home to the first crowdfunding platform, this course not only teaches students how traditional “brick-and-mortar” banks work and how they generate profits but also encourages students to consider banks' limitations and explore how alternative lending practices and new technologies are reshaping financial markets.

Banks play a key role in the modern capitalist society and have come to dominate financial markets. However, their reach is not universal and their dominance not unchallenged. The emergence of microfinance shows that traditional banking business models are inadequate when lending to the poor. More recently, the advent of the fintech industry, crowdsourcing, and peer-to-peer lending has further challenged large banks.

Challenging the Banks is taught by the Department of Finance at VU University Amsterdam, a department renowned internationally for its cutting-edge research on banking-system stability and high-frequency trading. Excursions include a field visit to the Dutch arts crowdfunding platform "voordekunst."

Course leader

Dr. Matteo Millone

Target group

Students of Economics, Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship.

Course aim

You will understand the challenges involved in lending to and funding businesses.
You will know how banks deal with those challenges and still generate profits.
You will be able to identify banks’ limitations and inefficiencies.
You will explore alternatives to traditional banking: microfinance, crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending.
You will be able to evaluate the effectiveness, past performance and future prospects of alternative finance.
You will be capable of thinking like a supporter, funder or lender, knowing how to pick a project and to present its pay-offs, risks and costs in a concise manner.

Credits info

Contact hours: 45

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes an airport pick-up service, welcome goodiebag, orientation programme, on-site support, 24/7 emergency assistance, and a transcript of records after completion of the course.

An early bird discount of €100 is available for students who apply before 1 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered, starting at €425 for two weeks.


The Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition fee of one course. The deadline to apply for a scholarship is 31 March. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the Summer School Website.