On the 8th and 9th of May 2015, DBS Bank organised Singapore's first blockchain hackathon in partnership with StartupBootcamp FinTech and CoinRepublic. 16 teams of developers and hackers assembled at Singapore’s startup hub, BASH @ Block 79 for a 2-day hackathon offering over S$33,000 in cash prizes for winning teams.
The theme of the hackathon centered around the application of blockchain technology to make banking services more accessible for the “unbanked” living in emerging markets and to make existing banking services more efficient for those living in developed markets.
BitX, BlockStrap and Colu were official API providers and the hackathon saw interesting uses of these APIs in creating new blockchain applications. Mentors from companies such as itBit, Plug and Play, chain.com, GoCoin, Colu and Blockstrap were present to support participating developers.
Of notable mention is the fact that teams participating in this hackathon will get to keep their IP rights. This is a decision that has been warmly welcomed by the startup community participating in the hackathon.
Here are the three winning teams from the 2-day hackathon.
3rd Place: BlockIntel
BlockIntel is a blockchain visualization/analysis tool that aims to simplify the identification of suspicious transactions, tracking of money flow and attainment of transactions insights. The BlockIntel team highlighted that banking KYC (Know Your Customer) teams may potentially find such a platform useful as it can support banking relationship with Bitcoin companies.
2nd Place: NuBank
NuBank aims to solve the problem of the unbanked in the Philippines using the concept of Hyperlocal. Hyperlocal in this context refers to financial services centered around a town, village or a specific geographical region. For the solution to work, NuBank will need to get the involvement of village representatives that are trusted by the local community such as village elders or mayors. The representatives will then work closely with a bank to provide financial services. Instead of using a piece of paper as a record of transaction for the unbanked, blockchain will be introduced as a layer of trust and this ensures that all records can be auditable and validatable by the outside world.
1st Place: OmniChain
OmniChain aims to make investing in emerging markets more trustable and affordable. Using OmniChain, companies that are looking for investors in a global scale would put their data and information into the blockchain, making them more transparent. Anyone can look into how the company has been operating in the past and thus better decide if they would like to finance the company through the blockchain. OmniChain brought home S$15,000 cash prize for their efforts in the hackathon.
In short, the 2-day blockchain hackathon sponsored by IBM and supported by various Singaporean governmental agencies and universities was a success and had achieved its objectives. The 16 teams showed how blockchain technology can be used in supporting various fintech innovation that can bring benefits to both developed and emerging markets. The future certainly looks bright for Singapore to be a fintech hub and for Singapore-based blockchain companies.
UPDATE 1 June 2015: Coin Republic posted a video of the DBS blockchain hackathon:
Disclaimer: Teams were given a short 3-minute for the final pitch. Explanations of the hackathon projects were described at the best understanding of the pitch.