By Emily Frost – firstname.lastname@example.org
An international initiative focusing on innovation for business is organizing a so-called “hackathon” in Barcelona, to take place just before the Next Bank Europe conference on 17-19 September. The event will look into new ways to improve retail-banking and payment systems. Participants, among them software programmers, designers and business representatives, will also exchange ideas, develop new software for capital markets and discuss big-data management. The official host of the gathering will be the Spanish organization Finnovista, whose mission is to support startup companies.
Those taking part in the September event will be able to take advantage of the API (application programming interface) of the Open Bank Project—another initiative aiming to transform the face of the banking industry and bring it into the future. These people will basically develop new programs for banking and financial services, as a form of competition. At the end of the hackathon, individual projects will be reviewed by a panel of business people from the financial-technology sector, and they will choose the winner. The creator of the winning project will earn the right to make a presentation at the conference.
Commenting on the plans, Open Bank Project’s chief executive, Simon Redfern, said that banks are aware of how important technological innovation is for them today. They are aware that if they open their APIs, they will get access to new revenue channels, using the wide array of value-added products and applications that open APIs offer. Fermin Bueno from Next Bank Europe said that the future belongs to close collaboration between FinTech startups and banks, because sometimes the best ideas about how to make banks more successful come from outside the industry. Disruptive technology is essential, he says, as it frequently creates new, innovative and potentially more winning business models.
Next Bank Europe is the European chapter of a worldwide organization that encourages startups to spearhead disruption in the banking and financial-services sector. Its main idea is that the technology boom that the world has been experiencing in the last decade or so has opened up innumerable opportunities for sector players to transform in a way that will help them service their customers better and, as a consequence, become more profitable. What’s more, this disruption will ensure banks’ viability in an environment that tech developments and changing customer demands has made quite susceptible to shocks and shakeups.
The Open Bank Project, for its part, consists of an open-source application programming interface and an app store targeting specifically banks in order to provide them with the technological means to expand their digital-service offerings. On its website, the project cites figures from IT research firm Gartner, which claims that just as today every bank offers online services, two years from now most of the big world lenders will offer API services to their customers, and a quarter will have app stores. In other words, the project helps banks go further into digital, sharpening their competitive edge.