We were pleased to have been part of New Zealand’s first open banking hackathon, the BankEngine Hackathon, last weekend in Auckland.

Our General Manager Strategy and Corporate Affairs, Jane Retimana, spoke on behalf of Payments NZ at the event, congratulating BankEngine for their leadership and encouragement of a new wave of API-enabled innovation. Jane talked about how BankEngine and our other API Centre Standards Users have embraced the pioneering spirit as they forge their way through this new fledgling ecosystem.

Our API Centre Manager, Phil Cass, who spent the weekend with the teams and was part of the industry judging panel, said the success of the event was a credit both to event organisers BankEngine and those who took part.

“As the event sponsor, it was great for us to see so much talent, energy and enthusiasm in one room. There was a very high standard of innovation and ideas from the entrants. Everyone worked well together – despite many of them not knowing each other at the beginning of the weekend.

“While the hackathon rules allowed for people to enter as teams, many also chose to just come in and form a team on the first day. This is a great example of the collaborative spirit of our industry.”

As one of the three industry judges, Phil said they were looking for originality and promise, but also valued more practical qualities such as aesthetics and usability, and functionality and improvement over the weekend. The calibre of the entries made it difficult to choose a winner when the time came for them to pitch to the judges, he said.

“It was hard to pick just one team after seeing so many clever ideas all weekend. What it came down to, for me, was originality, and seeing what the teams could achieve over a short time frame. We did have some entrants come in with projects that were more fully formed, which was great. But the entry that stood out for the judges in the end was creative, had unique aspects, and was completely developed and made functional during the hackathon.”

The winning team, Keep Accountable, had developed an app using BankEngine’s open banking APIs built to our API Centre standards that helped people achieve their goals. The team walked away with a cash prize of $1,000.

Overall, Phil said the hackathon showed the need for the industry to continue innovating and remain open to fresh ideas and perspectives.

“Events like these really open your eyes to use cases for APIs that you wouldn’t immediately think about. Given the right framework, resources and tools, the sky is the limit for what the industry can achieve with a little imagination and innovation.”