Despite all the buzz surrounding contactless cards, mobile wallets and other types of electronic payments, Europeans remain deeply enamored by cold, hard cash. Considering that a whopping $3,600,000,000,000 of transactions in Europe used physical money last year, this love affair seems unlikely to change anytime soon.
That’s where Fintech Producthon 2018 comes in. Sponsored by HEC Paris and Mastercard, last week’s event enabled 90 students to take a deep dive into the world of Fintech. Their mission: develop a user-friendly product to replace cash transactions.
“I wanted a way of encouraging innovation among students without following a fixed agenda,” explains HEC Paris MBA student Ziv Ilan, MBA ’19, an event organizer. “This event gave participants a hands-on opportunity to explore a domain that is highly relevant to the worlds of entrepreneurship, finance and technology.”
Designed as a 24-hour hackathon, the 15 teams from the HEC Paris MBA, the HEC Paris’ Grand Ecole and Masters programs, and ESSEC Business School huddled in rooms throughout the S Building brainstorming their ideas. Mentors from Mastercard and MiTrust circled around, guaranteeing that each team addressed the issues of trust, privacy and government regulation that have kept the public from adapting electronic forms of payment.
In the end, each team had three minutes to pitch their solution. The judges were Julien Fierobe, Director of Business Development at Mastercard, and Pierre Lahbabi, Cofounder and COO of MiTrust.
Emerging as victors were HEC Paris MBA students Warren Prabhu, Kunal Bhagi, Pakasai Ploysangsai and Dominique Christiansen, otherwise known as Team Bumblebee. Their proposal offered a unique way of making offline e-commerce purchases. Second place went to Phoenix, a team from ESSEC that used secured biometric identification for purchases. Team FinHEC, made up of HEC Paris MBA students Deepa Srinivasan, Corey Leung, Cody Overstreet, Ruben Reyna Miranda and Aditya Roy earned third place with their idea to leverage the familiarity of the Navigo card (Paris’ monthly transportation pass) by extending its purchasing power to online and store purchases.
The winning team earned €3000 in prize money. All three teams will also pitch their ideas at the Mastercard Innovation Forum in November, where they will compete for a grand prize of €10,000.
With these teams’ great proposals, there is every reason to believe that a cashless society is in Europe’s near future.