There is an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps banks hold hackathons. Sachin Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Hack­erEarth, dis­cusses the process of a hackathon:

Banking Frontiers - - News - Mo­han@bank­ingfron­tiers.com

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.

Sachin Gupta

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