Appathon 2015, the fintech hackathon promoted by Unicredit Group, will be held (over a 24 hour period, from November 7 to 8) simultaneously in Milan, Munich and Vienna and, organizers say, more than 300 participants and 75 teams of web developers, designers and marketing specialists will be attending it.
UniCredit has announced that it will award €50,000 and other prizes to the creators of the most innovative mobile banking applications. In addition to the €50,000 prize for the best app, participants can win internship positions, software licenses and scholarships. In Italy, participating teams will also be eligible to work with UniCredit Start Lab, a program that provides support to Italian start-ups.
The event, intended to spark new ideas and generate prototypes that make financial services more engaging and efficient, is part of the Group’s drive to accelerate digital banking services. Each participating team will be guided by UniCredit mentors, Group employees with a passion for technology.
“Appathon 2015 confirms our willingness to challenge our knowledge, to keep on learning and our commitment to maintaining an edge in banking innovation. These are the focus of our forthcoming IT plan and will be at the center of all UniCredit business structures,” said Paolo Fiorentino, COO and Deputy CEO of UniCredit.
“Our competitors are becoming more diverse because new technology is making it possible for new players to boldly enter our core banking market. This is why we have to look beyond the usual approaches to banking and think like innovators, constantly reevaluating our processes and offering cutting-edge products and services that will appeal to young professionals and students,” Mr. Fiorentino added.
The first UniCredit Appathon generated a number of useful innovations, including Prelievo Smart (“Smart Withdrawal”), a new function on the Group’s mobile banking app that lets customers withdraw cash from ATMs using a smartphone or QR code rather than a bank card.
Following the success of the first Appathon, which took the form of two smaller national competitions in Italy and in Germany, UniCredit decided to make this year’s event an international contest. Participants will develop apps for UniCredit’s main markets, grappling with the broad challenges that the banking industry faces in its drive to provide comprehensive, intuitive digital services.
Appathon 2015 contestants will be assigned to work on applications for a “digital wallet” for Italy and Austria along with apps specific to their own countries business needs. In Italy, teams will be asked to invent social media customer services and value-added service apps, while in Austria, they will concentrate on advisory and wealth-planning apps; meanwhile, teams in Germany will focus on wearables and mobile banking, digital private banking and premiumservice apps.
In a further innovation, this year’s Appathon participants in Italy and Germany will use UniCredit’s application programming interface (API), giving them the opportunity to create prototype apps that are steps away from real use.
“Some people may be surprised that Appathon participants will use the API, which is UniCredit’s actual programming code. But by making our API available to the public, our Group can make another leap forward. This is part of UniCredit’s evolution as an more open, innovative bank. Use of the API lets them create functioning app mock-ups, which will considerably speed up the production process if we decide we are interested to launch them commercially,” Mr. Fiorentino said.
Web developers, designers and marketing specialists are encouraged to apply for Appathon 2015 at www.appathon.eu, deadline October 18.
In Italy, the event will be held in Milan at the Unicredit Pavilion