Soulla Louca – Top 100 Women in Fintech

This article features an interview with Soulla Louca, Professor and Director of Partnerships at Institute For the Future at University of Nicosia.

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This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring female Fintech leaders globally. LATTICE80, in partnership with Miss Kaya, recently published our Top 100 Women in Fintech 2019 list.The effort reflects our efforts in women empowerment and support in a field where women continue to be underrepresented. Check out the full list for 2018 here as well. 

Miss Kaya is a lifestyle driven financial platform for the modern woman that aims to empower them to carve their own financial freedom through technologically-empowered financial tools. The mission is to provide the modern women globally with the support, resources, and community they need to live the lifestyle that they want.

Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.

This article features an interview with Soulla Louca, Professor and Director of Partnerships at Institute For the Future at University of Nicosia.

1. Tell us more about what you do and how did you move into Fintech?

I am a professor and a Director of the Institute For the Future (IFF) at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus (UNIC). With a background in Computer Science, I joined the Blockchain Initiative at UNIC in 2014, for which later I became the Director.

UNIC has been at the forefront of teaching and research in the fields of cryptocurrency and blockchain since 2013, through a range of activities aimed at helping academia, business and government develop a holistic view of their technical, business, legal and societal implications. These include developing a dynamic Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on cryptocurrencies, which has been followed by over 30,000 students from 85 countries to date; offering the first of its kind academic programme in the field (MSc in Digital Currency); and publishing academic certificates and diplomas on the blockchain.

In parallel, we have been organising DECENTRALIZED for the past three years, an annual international blockchain conference, featuring more than 100 speakers and hosting over 1,000 attendees (business executives, academics, researchers and students). We also joined Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative alongside other leading universities in the field (MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UCL and others), to further an ambitious interdisciplinary research and innovation agenda.  Moreover, our research activities and related work, led us to successful proposals within funding framework of the European Commission, H2020 and be part of the Austrian Blockchain Center as a scientific partner.

2. What does being a woman in Fintech mean to you?

The past years, Fintech has become part of my academic career and my everyday life.  It is, of course important to be recognised in such exciting and influential fields for our times and in helping to shape the broader conversation.  Fintech is a field that is giving rise to new business models, processes and products and aims to open new ways for financial inclusion and digital transformations for all.  The recent technological advancements, are acting as a catalyst for disruption and innovation, replacing the traditional ways of banking, ecommerce and other financial services.  I am grateful and proud for the part I am playing. At the same time, this had to come with a lot of hard work and compromises with my personal life.

3. What challenges do you think women face in Fintech?

Indeed, even in the times that we are cruising today, with all the changes and challenges of our society and the contemporary way of life, Fintech and technology in general is in many cases perceived as a male domain. Even today, most women have to go that extra mile(s) to receive the benefits that are taken for granted for men, even in basic aspects of equality conditions in the working environment. Climbing the ladder, it is not an easy task, especially if you do not fit the stereotypes that exist.  We are almost 20 years into the 21st century and women are massively underrepresented in the global technology workforce at a time when there is a shortage of skilled technology professionals and so many opportunities for them.

4. What advice would you give to other women starting out and growing their careers in Fintech?

You are all very intelligent, sophisticated and beautiful women.  Do not let anybody make you feel inferior or put you down. Be kind, firm and fair. Have positive thinking, with a smile in your face and not even the sky is the limit!

5. What are 3 keywords to describe Fintech for 2019?

Exciting, innovative, disrupting!