Introduction to Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

This course introduces the foundations of DeFi and provides a practical overview of the main decentral applications. It is organized by the Center FSI-HSG.
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Programme overview

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is a growing ecosystem offering financial services in a fully decentralized fashion – that is, without intermediaries like banks, brokerages, or exchanges. Users of DeFi applications can lend or borrow, trade cryptocurrencies, purchase derivatives, earn interest from savings, and buy insurance. All of this is made possible by leveraging on blockchain technology and smart contracts, which provide decentralized trust.

This course introduces the foundations of DeFi, starting from blockchain technology and smart contracts, and provides a practical overview of the main decentralized applications. Furthermore, it discusses the main uses of blockchain technology in the financial sectors and the potential challenges for the business models of established firms. In-depth case studies and interactive workshops will push participants to think about blockchain-related challenges and opportunities for their own business.

Next step

Are you interested in this programme? Download our brochure to find out if this executive education fits you and your career planning:

Contact person

Learn more about the programme in a personal conversation.


Dr. Tobias Trütsch Managing Director Center for Financial Services Innovation

Programme details

Programme type







2 Days - Friday, 8 March until Saturday, 9 March 2024




CHF 1'500 Company discounts for 2+ registrations and corporate packages available upon request

Target group

Aufsichtsrat/Verwaltungsrat, Bereichsleitende, Fachspezialist/-in, High Potential, Höhere Führungskraft, Inhaber / Gründer, Unternehmensleitung

Next date

The programme will take place in spring 2025.

Target Audience

The main target audience includes finance professionals such as managers and executives working in the financial industry and any other interested people.

Professionals in (not exhaustive):

  • Asset management

  • Banking

  • Financial advisory

  • Pension funds

  • Risk management

  • Insurance and finance IT

  • Corporate treasury and finance employees

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Learning Objectives

The course aims to provide a working knowledge of the most important DeFi applications, such as decentralized exchanges, lending platforms, NFT marketplaces, and it will provide a practical account of the most important technical features of blockchain and smart contracts.

Moreover, the course aims to provide an understanding of how blockchain technology can potentially affect different types of established companies in the financial sector and for which types of applications companies can use blockchain technology.

Working Knowledge of DeFi applications

Disruption Potential of Blockchain Technology

Use Cases for Blockchain Technology

Your Benefits

Technology is moving fast and being on top of the latest developments is challenging. This course will help participants navigate successfully through the unfolding DeFi revolution by:

Equipping participants with an in-depth understanding of the current DeFi ecosystem and its implications for the financial sector.

Providing participants with the tools required to understand current and future developments.

Allowing participants to recognize possible disruption risks and pointing out potential countermeasures.

Guiding participants in identifying potential DeFi-related business opportunities that allow them to grow their business.

Finanzielle Fuehrung2024


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Foundations of DeFi

1) Ethereum and Smart Contracts

2) Introduction to Decentralized Finance

3) Case Study: the collapse of Terra-Luna

4) Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Followed by a networking apéro

Lecturer: Prof. Andrea Barbon, Ph.D.

Date: Friday, 8 March 2024

Applications and Challenges for Existing Business Models

1) Typical areas of blockchain application

2) Challenges for existing business models of incumbent firms

3) Integrating blockchain technology into your business model

4) Legal and environmental challenges

Lecturer: Prof. Tim Meyer, Ph.D.Prof. Dr. Nina Reiser

Date: Saturday, 9 March 2024

Faculty: Lecturers

Andrea Barbon FSI
Prof. Andrea Barbon, Ph.D.

Andrea Barbon works as Assistant Professor in Financial Technology at the Center for Financial Services Innovation at the University of St.Gallen (FSI-HSG), where he teaches “Mathematics for Finance” to Ph.D. students and “Financial Technology” to Master students. He was born in Venice and holds a Bachelor’s degree in pure and applied mathematics from the University of Padua, a Master’s degree in pure mathematics from the University of Amsterdam and a PhD in finance from the University of Lugano. His research interests revolve around financial technology with a focus on decentralized finance (DeFi), NFT markets, asset prices, market microstructure, and monetary policy. He has published in the Journal of Finance and the Review of Asset Pricing Studies.

Tim Meyer FSI
Prof. Tim Meyer, Ph.D.

Tim Meyer is Assistant Professor at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (FSI-HSG) and the Institute for Management and Strategy at the University of St.Gallen (IfB-HSG). Previously, he was a postdoc at the Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization (ISTO) at LMU Munich and a Ph.D. student at Bocconi University. His research focuses on how digital platforms affect firms’ performance and competitive relationships, and how digital platforms can benefit from the products and services that complementors provide on them. He studies these issues in the context of financial services as well as in several other areas, such as news media or the hotel industry.

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Prof. Dr. Nina Reiser

Nina Reiser is Associate Professor of Financial Markets Law at the School of Law, affiliated with the HSG Center for Financial Services Innovation (FSI-HSG) and Vice Director at the Institute of Law and Economics (ILE-HSG) at the University of St. Gallen. Prior to her appointment at the University of St. Gallen, she held various positions at the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. She is also a private lecturer in private and commercial law at the University of Zurich and holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, USA. Nina Reiser researches and teaches in the areas of financial market law and corporate law. She combines basic research with practical insights from her work at FINMA.

Your Registration


You can register via the “Register” button on this homepage. The number of participants is limited. Registrations will be considered according to the date of receipt. No prerequisites are necessary.


The course fee includes all course materials, personal supervision of the case studies, lunch, and meals during breaks. The participants bear travel, accommodation, and other catering costs. Course fees already paid will not be refunded.


You will receive a participation certificate at the end of the course.

Cancellation policy

Cancellations up to 90 days before the start of the course are free of charge, between 89 and 30 days before the start of the course 50% of the costs will be charged, later cancellations will be charged the full course costs.


The symposium starts at 9 am until 4.45 pm including lunch break.


This executive education programme is organized by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

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Do you require further information?

I am gladly available for you and look forward to hearing from you.


Dr. Tobias Trütsch Managing Director Center for Financial Services Innovation

Why University of St.Gallen

The HSG - your partner for first-class executive education in Switzerland

At the University of St. Gallen (HSG), you can choose from one of the largest executive education portfolios in the German speaking region – the right programme for your needs and career objectives. The renowned quality and practical relevance of the learning experience convinces more than 6000 participants per year. Profit from an Executive Degree from St.Gallen – the best business school in the German-speaking world – and get ahead in your career!

  • For high-quality teaching and executive training by top researchers

  • For competent executives

  • For Lifelong Learning

  • For international collaborations

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