Kazakhstan’s Major Banks Seek Innovations with ‘Hackathons’

ASTANA – The development time for new technologies dictates its rules to the financial sector. The country’s two major banks – Halyk Bank and Kazkommertsbank – organised trending hackathons to attract brilliant young minds to create and develop new ideas and business solutions in an effort to improve their services and performance.

Photo by wired.com.

Photo by wired.com.

A hackathon, derived from the words “hack” and “marathon,” aims to go from concept to prototype in a limited period of time. Banks use the events to develop new banking products using information and communications technologies. Hackathons in the financial area are very popular around the world and players who pay special attention to the trend will be able to become the banks of the new generation, according to Kapital.kz.

Halyk Bank organised HalykFintech Feb. 13-14 in Almaty. Management board chairwoman Umut Shayakhmetova noted Kazakh banks need to develop state-of-the-art technologies and Halyk Bank intends to work with young innovators.

“Today, the banking industry is under the pressure of technological factors. Previously, the steady sales were the foundation of banks, but now the traditional business processes go online and to mobile devices. In this connection, Halyk Bank has felt the need to become more user-friendly in terms of technology. But we should not forget that the main function is still traditional banking, which lies in the reliability and safety of the trusted funds, the ability to take risks in lending and the ability to absorb certain losses,” she said, noted Kapital.kz.

A total of 25 teams took part in the event, including 80 young specialists registered for the hackathon. They presented projects focused on online payments and transfers, controlling and tracking the electronic queue, creating various bots in instant messengers, social networks for employees and other ideas.

The winning solutions included Halyk Wi-Pay, a mobile app that allows turning a smartphone not only into a payment instrument, but also a terminal to receive payments, and WhatsApp Assistant, a contactless payment technology. The bot is made for WhatsApp messenger, which sends push notifications, news, promotions and bonuses, consults, accepts applications for credit, deposits and replaces SMS banking.

The projects will be implemented in pilot mode in the Halyk Group of companies. The bank’s management noted other interesting developments, applications and participant services. Implementing them will be discussed on an individual basis.

Kazkommertsbank, in conjunction with Visa payment system, organised a banking services hackathon in early February.

“As a financial institution focused on the use of modern information technology, we have enthusiastically started the first FinTech hackathon in Kazakhstan. We hope that it will help us not only to discover new talents in the field of IT, but also to see the original ideas that we hope to implement in the future work of the bank. Our main goal is to make the banking services of Kazkommertsbank simple and convenient for the customers, and a fresh perspective view of young and experienced programmers will give us invaluable help in this work,” said Kazkommertsbank Managing Director Nurlan Zhagiparov during the hackathon opening, according to Kapital.kz.

Kazkommertsbank’s hackathon participants were asked to develop ideas in two main directions – using iBeacon technology – data exchange service between wireless devices (beacons) and their subsequent use – and open banking. The winning team received a trip for two to the Silicon Valley in the United States, with visits to the offices of leading IT companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the best projects have the opportunity to obtain a contract to develop and execute their ideas.

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