The Kaffeine Lab, Nations Trust Bank’s innovation centre at Gregory’s Road, came alive recently as the Bank hosted the first annual Nations Trust Fintech Hackathon. More than 150 teams from across Sri Lanka put forward their applications to contest in the Hackathon and the best 16 were selected to compete. The Hackathon kicked off with a short opening ceremony on the evening of the 10th of November 2017. Beginning at 6.00pm the teams hacked away through the night and finished up by 6.00am the next day. After the judges had made their decisions, the winners were announced at a ceremony on the morning of the 11th of November 2017. Top bank officials were present throughout the event, providing the teams with all the support they required.
Speaking as the Hackathon was in progress, Thilak Piyadigama – COO of Nations Trust Bank said, ‘In Sri Lanka we fail to provide young people with platforms to come up in life and showcase their ideas and talent. That’s why this is such a great initiative that makes us feel great about what’s happening here and proud of what we’re doing. It’s also a way to encourage competitiveness and boost productivity, when you have to deliver a functional solution in 12 hours. Traditionally, banks are quiet, conventional, full suit people, so this is a major step forward not only for us but for the whole sector. We are setting a trend here and I’m sure other players in the sector will follow.
‘We’ve found some really bright young kids and as a bank we want to help them take their ideas to the next level, mentoring them and providing them with start-up capital if we really like their ideas. Most start-ups tend to fail but with the right nurturing they have a better chance at succeeding. We have committed to making this an annual event and tonight’s event is only the beginning of an amazing journey. I would like to say a big thank you to all our partner universities and institutions, organizers and most of all the contestants for coming out here.’
The Nations Trust Fintech Hackathon 2017 saw some vibrant talent and enthusiastic participants competing in an electric atmosphere all through the night and the wee hours of the morning. Teams had projects ranging from an Island-wide Bus Route/Positioning Collator with trip planning features, a Handy Person Aggregator to put users in touch with plumbers, mechanics and other handymen closest to them, a VR Based Car Sale Experience and an ambitious project to introduce direct P2P energy trading between producers of excess solar power and consumers, along with many other fascinating and possibly game changing ideas.
Dinesh Thomas, the Chief Innovation Officer at Nations Trust Bank and one of the key organizers of the event added that, ‘I think what sets the Nations Trust Fintech Hackathon apart from other hackathons is that we are not after participants’ intellectual property. We are not buying or taking anything from them. We want them to own their ideas and develop them. We want to be partners and collaborate with them on this journey.
‘Our endgame is to collaborate with others and create new possibilities for fintech in Sri Lanka and may be even the world at large. Collaboration is a win, win proposition and we can help grow our businesses together. Most of these young guys and girls have no limit in terms of technical skills to deliver but when it comes to business skills to take their product to market, they’re often lagging way behind. We can help them here, guide them, finance them and mentor them to increase their chances of success. ’
The team, ‘Tech Devs’ were the ultimate winners of the Nations Trust Fintech Hackathon 2017 and walked away with a cash prize of LKR 250,000 and an interest free business funding plan. The runners up walked away with handsome cash prizes of LKR 150,000 and LKR 75,000 respectively.
It’s great to see banks undertaking major initiatives like this to encourage the immense talent we have in this country to reach for the stars and bear fruit. We hope that we will see many more such initiatives in the future.
What do you think? Were you part of the Nations Trust Fintech Hack? Would you be, next year? Let us know in the comments below.