On 6th of March 2020, the Financial Services Innovators (FSI), a non-for-profit organisation with trustees from the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc. and the Fintech community in collaboration with Google Developer Group (GDG) and Sterling Babk Plc, the lead sponsor concluded the 1st edition of its 2 days hackathon tagged ‘PayAsYouKnow.’  The theme of this maiden hackathon was ‘How would you innovate payment and identity systems to prevent fraud and make people safe with payments. Of the 270 teams that registered to contest at the hackathon, 20 teams were shortlisted to contest at the physical hackathon at NG Hub, Yaba whilst other teams looked to the virtual version of the PayAsYouKnow Hackathon to display their skills.  

The virtual/distributed version of the hackathon which also commenced on the 5th of March 2020 was concluded on the 10th of March 2020. We opened up over 20 meetup centres across Nigeria for those that participated via the virtual hackathon. 

Teams took on the problem statement working with the APIs provided on the Industry Innovation Sandbox and sought to discover solutions that address the payment needs of the informal sector with attention to providing multiple payment options as well as tackling fraud, dispute resolution related issues and financial exclusion. 

It was interesting to see the kind of innovation that came out of the industry innovation sandbox which was used as a working tool at the hackathon. Here is a brief description of the top 3 products at the physical hackathon.

  • Team Digital Technologies took the 1st place price money of N3m for their solution that caters primarily for low income earners, which uses soundwave technology to send and receive money without the internet connectivity.
  • Team Frais came in 2nd and went home with N2m for their solution which leverages on existing technology that ensures that all a customer needs to make safe, secure payments is a fingerprint.
  • N1m went to the 3rd placed team (Scuudu Labs). The product uses AI (unsupervised learning, argumentation for decision making and LSTMs for time series) to execute a novel solution for identifying anomalies in payment.

A total of 39 entries were received from the virtual/distributed hackathon. The First placed Team Cashbreeze, 2nd placed Team Alpha and 3rd placed Team Phoenix FSI Hackathon won 

N 1,000,000.00; N 750,000.00 and N 500,000.00 respectively. The MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) built by the winners include a merchant USSD solution that enables online payments and biometric -enabled payments, USSD interactive payment solution in indigenous languages, embedded with AI features to detect fraud and a USSD payment solution not requiring account numbers to effect transfers respectively. 

Consolation prizes of N 100,000.00 each were also won by 6 teams  from the 6 Geopolitical zones – South-West- Team Phoenix (Flux), South-South- Team Aibug (Jiggle), South-East- Team DSC ESUT (Oya Send), North West- Team Fafutukawa (Payee), North-Central- Naira App and North-East- Team GDG Jalingo (JustPay)

The Industry Innovation Sandbox has been proven to be the platform to drive financial innovation, inclusion and integration in the financial services ecosystem. Given the limited number of APIs on the sandbox and the short timeframe, innovators across Nigeria could tinker with the APIs and come up with innovative solutions within a short time. We hope to see the economic impact of these solutions as our accelerators and mentors work with the winners to take them to the next level.

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