Is there anyone else who from time to time wonders about the possibilities of taking a room full of developers, giving them a range of APIs and asking them to create a workable, innovative application? Whilst I have upwards of a hundred different ideas and use cases for our payment APIs (that’s one for another blog as judges weren’t allowed to take part), I was really curious about what solutions participants would come up with at our first ever Hackathon last Friday (29th September 2017).
The API Innovation Challenge, hosted in partnership with TrueLayer, HackerOne and Starling Bank, saw developers come together at the Google Campus in London with the aim of creating the next big fintech application.
Fuelled by a seemingly never-ending supply of pastries, burgers, pizza and fruit (we needed to throw something healthy in there!), the hackers spent 12 hours planning, developing and refining an application that had to fall into any of the following categories:
- Web 2.0
- Financial services
- Personal finance
- Risk & compliance
- Big Data / machine intelligence
Alongside my partner judges, I spent much of the day discussing ideas and sharing suggestions with participants, but also made sure I had time for a few quick games of foosball with the developers. Even in this intense environment and with a looming deadline, there is always time for foosball!
Despite working with some of the most talented developers on a daily basis, we were all blown away by the participants’ ability to create so much in such a limited amount of time. From an investment app based on machine learning (an idea we advised the team behind it to never sell if they choose to develop it further as it would be worth billions) to a B2B marketplace which, using Currencycloud’s payment API, enabled businesses to sell their invoices and investors to bid on them, there was no shortage of quality ideas.
So, after the demos a difficult deliberation process ensued for us judges. Each project had its own clear merit, from the impressive cohesiveness of the team behind StockLaundry, the machine learning investment app, despite only having met hours before; and the astounding commercial viability of the the invoice marketplace; to the the sophisticated combination of APIs with Money Master, a personal finance manager app, and the brilliance of the user-experience focused Better Life, a personal debt manager based on cognitive behavioural technology; to name a few.
But there could only be one winner, and Cynthia Tian’s interactive InvestBot which connects to users’ bank accounts, enabling them to check details such as their account balance and shares investment suggestions based on this information and spending habits, took the crown and won the £3,000 first prize
Bot technology is very topical, and their application for banks to maintain their customer service and engage younger generations without the necessity of traditional bank branches is ingenious. We were also really impressed by Cynthia’s intention to bring the numerous investment options for users to live in an engaging way.
Our event coordinator might disagree, but I can’t wait for next year’s event which promises to be even bigger and better. So, watch this space….