Westpac New Zealand is crowdsourcing its next mobile banking app.
The bank has put out a call for mobile banking app ideas from New Zealand developers and designers, offering $10,000 to each winner.
The contest, called The Westpac App Challenge, appears to welcome a variety of ideas so long as they "make a process, transaction, application or any other common banking activity easier, faster and safe for customers," explains the contest site. Individuals, teams and organizations can enter the challenge until September 13.
"We want more geeks," said a bank representative in a YouTube video explaining the contest. "We want to collaborate with you, developers in New Zealand, to help us make an application that is going to change banking."
The bank is seeking ideas and fresh thinking on how to engage with its customer base while also better connecting with young developers.
We are fully embracing the change around mobility, says Simon Pomeroy, head of digital at Westpac. We see mobile as the key disrupter.
To solicit entries, the bank said it will travel the country to meet with incubators, developer and designer groups, and schools that have strong IT curriculums. The bank is also using social media to generate some buzz and will host related Meetups to better engage with developers and discuss how to commercialize their ideas.
Westpac said it will pick at least five entrants to give 15-minute presentations of their concepts to a panel of judges. (Applicants are responsible for travel and hotel costs.) At least two finalists will be chosen to develop their apps and will receive $10,000 in their Westpac bank accounts. The winners will retain the ownership of the intellectual property rights to the app in countries outside New Zealand and Australia.
Pomeroy expects young people and small businesses will be more apt to enter the contest as well as customers interested in solving a problem.
Already, the bank has received more than 100 applications.
Westpac is the latest to join a growing cohort of institutions that have opted to use crowdsourcing to generate new product ideas. Including Westpac, banks like FNB in South Africa and Commonwealth Bank of Australia have sourced new ideas from employees.
Even the U.S. Treasury held a mobile app contest that solicited ideas for apps that would help Americans better manage their money.
Many bank-hosted challenges, however, aren't exclusive to mobile developments, nor do they seek ideas from outsiders. More typical are U.S. banks holding internal contests to solicit ideas from employees. Vendors like Imaginatik sell financial institutions software to help facilitate the process.
American banks also receive many mobile app ideas from their customers, some stemming from customers' complaints (removing a glitch that saves checks to the smartphone's camera roll, for example). Some banks have sought customer input about what personal finance management tools they should integrate into their apps (such as adding the ability to deactivate a debit card). Customers who own smartphones and have the freedom to download any firm's app are driving banks' mobile feature plans.