There is an organization that helps banks hold hackathons. Sachin Gupta, CEO and co-founder of HackerEarth, discusses the process of a hackathon:
N. Mohan: Can you outline how a typical hackathon is organized? What preparations go into it?
Sachin Gupta: I will explain. A hackathon can be divided into 2 phases the first phase is where the participants are invited to register and submit their ideas on the theme of the hackathon. The second phase is where the ideas are shortlisted and select teams are invited to build their solution, either at a physical event or during an online submission phase. The first step in hosting a hackathon is to define (i) purpose - why the hackathon is being hosted, what’s the larger objective, (ii) themes - the problem statements or domains in which the organizers seek ideas and solutions, (iii) format - how many phases will there be, is there a physical event, how many teams will be shortlisted etc.
Once all the information is gathered, a campaign is created on our platform and opened up to the audience for registrations. This phase is called online phase/idea submission phase which typically runs for 21 days where we promote the hackathon to the relevant developers in the community and invite them to submit their ideas to solve a given problem statement. Once the idea submission phase ends, we evaluate and shortlist these ideas to invite the shortlisted ones to round 2. This typically happens in a window of 2 weeks post idea submission phase. In the second phase, the shortlisted teams are invited to an onsite hackathon which generally runs for 36 hours, wherein these teams build their solutions basis the ideas submitted in the first phase. The submitted applications are evaluated by judges on various parameters and the best submissions are awarded.
Each hackathon will have different problem statement and hence the evaluation of prospective participants assessed varies. However, in general, the evaluation criteria to shortlist the ideas from phase one to phase two are:
Idea - innovativeness of the idea, relevance of pain points the idea is trying to address, if there’s already existing solution available for the proposed idea and maturity of the technology used
Complexity - scalability and overall difficulty/complexity of proposed idea, elaborative self-explanatory design, use of sane contextual presentation of idea which would make sense and will the ideator be able to demonstrate this during offline event.
Creativity - how creatively is the idea and other supporting deliverables presented by the candidate
Impact - problem solution, impact and relevance.
Can you list two of your successful hackathons organized for the banking and financial services sector?
Two of our successful hackathons were:
For State Bank of India: The initiative allowed participants comprising a team of maximum five people to develop applications or solutions using only SBI APIs, only external APIs and a combination of SBI APIs and external APIs. Multiple mobile applications/ transaction based solutions were created as a part of the application building, which the client is looking to inculcate in their online banking process.
For Mastercard: The theme of this Hackathon is #CashLessBanoIndia. The main focus of this hackathon was to come up with ideas which will encourage people to use digital payments instead of cash. There were mainly 4 themes - creating metadata driven rules platform, how to accelerate the adoption of digital payments in India, to develop alternate payment solution for merchants and increase the security of P2P and P2M transactions.
What according to you are the challenges that banks face with the advent of fintech and the increasing customer demands?
Out of the many, here are few main challenges faced by banking/fintech sector
Consumer expectations: These days it’s all about customer experience and many banks are feeling pressure because they are not delivering the level of service that consumers are demanding. Today’s consumers expect experiences to be digital, whereas banking has traditionally been a brick-and-mortar business.
Predictive Analysis: Banks sit on a gold mine of data, which can be used for various predictive analysis like fraud detection/prevention, analyzing spend patterns, predicting user transactions etc.
Social Media: There is tons of data on social platforms that can be used for understanding customer behavior. Banks want to use social analytics to understand customer’s financial behavior and categorize this into various behavioral buckets.
User Metrics: It is understanding how a user uses an application. This will allow banks to design better user experience for consumers.
Accelerate Adoption of Digital Payments: The aim is to develop a solution that simplifies digital transactions enabling digital inclusion for all segments.
Customer Experience: Today, this involves leveraging AI and NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology to enhance customer experience.