Israeli Bank Plans Hackathon for Banking App Ideas

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Bank Leumi is holding a two-day hackathon competition that is expected to welcome more than 100 technology developers, programmers, entrepreneurs and designers.

The event will be held on Oct. 22-23 in Tel Aviv and is open to all. "Anyone who has an idea for an innovative banking app" can participate, the Israeli bank said in a press release Tuesday.

Contestants are expected to generate ideas and develop innovative mobile banking apps within 36 hours. The apps will focus on six challenging areas in banking: online payments; improving user experience; social media; promoting small and midsize businesses; gamification; and the so-called Internet of Things.

"Currently all the development of mobile apps is performed within the bank, but we are constantly seeking new technological developments that can enhance the customer experience," said Danny Yerushalmi, head of Leumi Technologies. The idea behind the Leumi Hackathon is to allow external entities and the general public to express opinions and generate ideas, and to provide a platform where developers and entrepreneurs can "develop banking apps that address specific customer needs." And that is part of "a global trend of integrating customers in technological development," he said.

The morning of the competition each participant, or team, will have one minute to pitch an app idea to the other participants and the judges. Then the contestants will be divided into small teams and given access to a development environment, application programming interface and the most common coding languages needed for the app development. Salesforce, a cloud computing company in San Francisco, will provide the development environment and APIs to participants, while Leumi's technological and business development experts will be available to mentor contestants. BeMyApp, which specializes in organizing unique events, is assisting Leumi for the event, the company said.

At the end of the marathon each team will have five minutes to present a finalized product to the judges. The winner of the competition will be awarded 50,000 Israeli shekels (about $14,000). The runner-up will receive three MacBook Air laptops. The third-place contestant will get three Nexus 7 tablets.

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