Hack (Make) the Bank Hackathon

30 October 2015

Edinburgh. Innovators, Entrepreneurs. Designers. Software Engineers. Gin and Whisky Tasting. Massage. Kilts. Bagpipes. Children. Workshops. Pitches. Mentor sessions. Awards. Cocktails. Mix these ingredients together and out comes the inspiration for the future of banking.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) teamed up with Open Bank Project (OBP) to host its banking Hackathon, Hack (Make) the Bank at the RBS Technology Solutions Centre in Edinburgh, October 9-11. The event provided the stage for innovators, designers and software engineers to come together and create applications to improve the banking sector, be it by masterminding complementary digital offerings or by providing alternatives to traditional banking.

I attended the Hackathon with colleagues from DataArt – Anton Krasikov, Denis Baranov and Sergey Kharchenko. It was an exciting and well organized event with a pleasantly open-minded atmosphere, extensive support and useful feedback.

A great visual of all 18 pitched and competing projects was created by one of the attendees.

The three main categories for competing projects included: “Sustain the Bank” – make the bank more sustainable with data and analytics, artificial intelligence or APIs; “Disrupt the Bank of Now” – make the bank irrelevant with mobile and wearable, social collaboration and blockchain and “The Best Use of Technology.”

The three winning teams were Rooster Bank, Sign of the Times and Seed Finance. All members of these teams took home self-balancing electric scooters, Apple watches or Oculus Rift Development Kits.

Some of the attendees had young children with them. Incidentally, kids’ presence was incredibly relevant, as it gave the event an interesting twist, injecting extra life into projects developed for children and then had the kids participating in their showcase. Participation of the young audience brought a special focus and inspiration to invent a bank of the future for the next generation. Rooster bank, one of the winning projects is a fun and educational app that helps kids manage their earned pocket money, teaching them to save and spend responsibly. 

Our presentation of “Pulsation”, an app designed by DataArt to measure and reward physical activity, was also well received, though it didn’t have the team riding home on a high tech electric scooters.

Some of the highlights worth mentioning are:

Common Purpose – an app for event organizers that removes a pain of collecting money from participants via use of disposable bank accounts.

Golden Egg– is a Tamagotchi style gamification app, which takes your desired financial goal and makes a character health dependent on your success at achieving this goal.

Seed Platformdetermines financial profiles that result from the app’s monitoring of one’s transactions and provides a more informed, specific and flexible alternative to credit scores. For instance, if you want to buy a car, the app will send specific relevant metrics to a car dealer, such as your monthly average disposable income in addition to your credit card payment history.

Affinity – an app that uses a star rating system to allow users to work out a group of select bank representatives, that they would enjoy dealing with. Then the bank seamlessly connects the user with one of the selected bank reps, via a web application, mobile, video or voice call, for a quick, convenient and personal service.

Pudl – the idea of a collective overdraft that friends share among themselves to help each other avoid overdraft fees. In essence, you friends instead of your bank become your creditors.

Technical stuff aside, the event had acool and authentic atmosphere — with traditional Scottish bagpipes, a chance to wear kilts, and play a bagpipe. The traditional whisky tasting experience was accompanied by a lecture on the subject.

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