Money is an integral part of our everyday life as it enables commerce and touches everything we do. Even after all the advancements in technology and automation, majority of transactions in India happen in cash (97%+). So when we decided to do a payments hackathon, so many entrepreneurs and payments companies joined hands with us to make it happen. We had an amazing 30 hours of intense coding, presentations and were able to decide the winner of the first payment hackathon in the country (#paymentsHack on twitter).
The Hackathon officially began with a kick-off talk by Amit Goel (Co-Founder, Let's Talk Payments and The Money Event). He spoke about issues in the Payments Industry, especially in India, and the reason organizers decided to do a Payments Centered Hackathon. He said "The issues in the payments industry are not yet solved. These problems sit at the intersection of Commerce, Banking and Technology and require lot of innovative thinking to overcome barriers in P2P and proximity payments to name a few".
Let’s Talk Payments, in partnership with The Money Event, Zwitch (provided APIs), and Prestige SN team (Veerendra, Arun, Vikram) organized the first ever Payments Hackathon in India at Bangalore on the 5th and 6th of July, 2014. Atom Technologies was the grand sponsor of the event, and EzeTap was the Prize sponsor and provided APIs and support for the Hackathon.
There were more than 65-70 people who came to the Hackathon and the teams started working on their applications in the first round from Saturday noon till Sunday noon. The First round judges Anish Achuthan (Zwitch), Varghese Abhraham (Visa), Amit Goel (LTP), Abhishek Nayak (Ezetap) selected the top 3 finalist teams from the entire lot. The last round with 3 finalist teams started again at around 2 pm. At around 4 pm the finalists presented a polished version of their solution in an Open house (10-15 min each). This was followed by winner announcement and prize ceremony at around 5 pm.
The best way to describe the energy would be to take an excerpt from the talk given by Sanjay Swamy (Managing Partner, AngelPrime): “Its amazing to see so many of you come down here, even missing the weekend world cup quarter final matches, in order to build something in the field of Payments”. Sanjay was the judge for the final round and selected the final winner along with other judges. He appreciated the solutions that came out of the hackathon and congratulated the organizers.
At the suggestion of Veerendra Mishra (one of the Organizers), I even tried live streaming Argentina vs Belgium game but no one even glanced at the screen. Kudos to these guys (coders) who sat all night and prepared their applications. Dewang Narella (Director, Atom Technologies) was also very supportive of the hackthon right from the beginning and really appreciated the effort although he could not attend it. National Sales head of Atom Technologies Shantha K. Bijai was present and applauded the participating teams for their effort.
There were two problem statements given for the hackathon:
- financialInclusion use cases utilizing digital money innovations such as P2P payments, micro-lending etc.
- Build something that the participant always wanted to build (even non-payments app) where payments is an integral part. Show how they integrate payments into it.
As the members presented their product, each of the judges marked the teams on certain parameters - Technology Soundness, Ease of Use, Relevance to Context, Creative Quotient and Overall Impact. All the scores were added up and the winner was selected by the judges. The final scores were pretty close at 102, 96 and 95 with UPay on second place (left pic below) and Insta-Pay on third (right hand pic below). What was interesting is that UPay had chosen to use Bluetooth as the primary method of moving payments data while Insta-Pay used a QR code, app and IMPS based solution.
The winning app called money Beam by Sidhanth, Raghava and Pavan implented MMID and PIN based transaction methods. MMID is a unique identifier and part of real-time cross-bank payment system developed by National Payment Council of India. Money Beam, the winning solution also included NFC functionality. The app enables you to:
- Manage all your bank accounts.
- Transfer funds to a friend with the click of a button (immediate transfer irrespective of the bank)
- Request money from peers.
- Get notified of your various bills, and
- Also Pay with NFC tap (if you have a NFC enabled phone)
According to me, Money Beam’s USP was the non requirement for the recipient to have the app downloaded on his phone to receive money, as long has he has his MMID. Shown below is their App in action.
The winners received some really cool and meaningful prizes, including 2 passes to The Money Event in Last Vegas, 9th – 11th September, 2014. They obtained a Fintech Startup Kit consisting of useful tools, market reports and regulatory insights, consultation time with 5 global Fintech experts, consultation time with 3 Fintech entrepreneurs in India, Marketing and PR package on LTP. They also received an Enterprise package from Zwitch for accepting online payments and mobile card reader devices from EzeTap along with T-shirts and other goodies from sponsors.
“There are several opportunities in the payments space in India as well as globally. Today we have seen quite a few products that were developed based on IMPS and consumer facing apps,” commented Anish Achuthan, CEO of Zwitch. Focus on other areas of financial inclusion and back end is also required.
Good coders are needed everywhere: they have evloved from those who only write code that a computer can understand, to develop code that humans can understand and use. Such Hackathons really bring some of these bright minds together and work for a specific cause. The organizers are planning to take these Payments Hackathon to other cities in India at a large scale.
Next weekend The Money Event and Let's Talk Payments are organizing a similar Payments Hackathon in Charlotte, North Carolina (US). On this day, I remember an article from our very own Aditya Khurjekar (co-founder, Let's Talk Payments) Don't Make Fun of the Payment Nerds...you will work for them one day!