DisruptCyprus had the opportunity to talk with Ioannis Ioannides, member of the team BANKBASE, which won the second place last year in the BOC FinTech Hackathon.
BANKBASE build an mvp of a personal budgeting smart wallet application using the BOC API. The team members of the team were Ioannis Ioannides, Sotiris Ioannides, Michael Alvanos and Alexandros Hadjixenophontos. Ioannis told us why hackathons are important for the innovation ecosystem in Cyprus and at the end shared his experience, insights and tips about the BOC fintech hackathon.
- Why hackathons are important for the innovation ecosystem in Cyprus?
Creative ideas are inherent in people. Every day we reproduce, develop and share ideas. But the best ideas often do not emerge from a single person but are the result of collaboration. In order to develop these ideas, we use what is defined as "cooperative innovation" in order to build effective partnerships with external organizations, to encourage internal team building and through the consultation of our clients, in the case of a company, innovations become not only unique but also important. An unorthodox but exciting collaboration instrument in this new digital age is the Hackathon. It is a time-limited competition in which we are called to solve a problem of our choice using technology. On the surface, Hackathon is a fun way to push the boundaries and innovate. It is an exciting way of working because it requires cooperation and encourages participants to introduce innovation with the most important component of all. To Solve a problem. Innovations need to make sense to change people's lives. Hackathon establishes this way of thinking. Despite its chaotic fast nature, with many teams working all night, it forces participants to focus on one issue and think about innovation with a large set of inputs. There are so many great ideas and surprisingly agile minds in Cyprus which is what makes Bank of Cyprus so positive in organizing and co-operating with the participants, even for the short period of time. Sometimes, through the participation, teams can be rewarded with a collaborative project with the Bank or even and equally important to gain knowledge added to their CVs. But at its centre, Hackathon aims to provide pathways to resolving an issue that is vital to the future of our planet. Hackathon is a new way of collaboration and is excellent to keep us alert. In Cyprus, it is very important to encourage innovation by using any means of cooperation as it evolves us as individuals and improves our quality of life.
- Why you attended the BOC Hackathon #fintech?
The reason we took part in last year's BOC Hackathon #fintech was to solve an existing problem of managing our personal income/expenses by integrating budgeting and goal setting tools. In essence, creating a "smart wallet". In the end, however, what #fintech offers is much more than the reward and cash prize. The important thing for us was the exchange of knowledge over 48 hours, which in real time is perhaps 6 months. At the same time, we have surpassed our personal limits by creating a product or service in such a limited time-frame. We met many groups of people of all ages and educational backgrounds. It was a tremendous opportunity for networking. BOC Hackathon #fintech was and is very creative and highly recommended.
- How did you find the BOC Hackathon last year?
The initiative of Bank of Cyprus, as I said last year, was amazing. Other Hackathons have been organized in Cyprus, but this was the first "niche" for the Bank's core business. Fintech Hackathons have been developing rapidly over the last 3-4 years with the use of blockchain technology and open Banking APIs. In order for an organization to exist today, it must invest and innovate. The overall organization of Hackathon last year was very good. The cooperation with external experts from both Cyprus and abroad, made the event even more professional, which demonstrates the importance it has for the Bank. BOC's effort to find innovative products and services as well as young talents which may become part of the organization's future workforce is evident.
- Would you recommend to other people to attend and what advice/tips would you give them?
Of course! The experience is unique and as I have said previously, I highly recommend it. The only advice I could give to a new group is about the equal distribution of labour and time. In such a fast and demanding competition, all team members have to contribute an equal share of work, as there is no time to waste. Do not forget that the idea is not only judged by the quality of the code and proof of concept, but also by the presentations during and at the end of the competition. Many teams had tremendous ideas and managed to complete their proof of concept, but they were unable to explain the problem they were trying to solve, and its go-to-market strategy. I sincerely wish all teams every success with a hint of creative anxiety!
Don't miss this opportunity and attend the BOC FinTech Hackathon 2.0
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