The first LTS International Online Hackathon: 38 students brought together to fight poverty
Today, there are more than 2 billion people who do not have access to basic financial services. In recent years, digital solutions have aimed to improve financial capability, health and social well-being, increasing individuals’ ability to generate income and manage finances
Working together to fight poverty
Building on this idea, the Luxembourg Tech School, an extracurricular school program supporting the development of future Digital Leaders, brought together, alongside its main financial education sponsor Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière and other partners, the first international online hackathon assembling bright young minds from around the world with the aim of fighting poverty with smart technologies.
From the 5th to 7th of February, 19 international and 19 Luxembourg Tech School students joined forces, immersing themselves in this two-day intensive online hackathon to fight poverty.
Coming from Egypt, Armenia and Luxembourg, the students impressed the audience members with their vision, agility and creativity in tackling one of the most important issues we face today: fighting poverty and helping those who are left behind by the traditional financial services industry. In 48 hours, the students worked tirelessly to build the future of inclusive digital finance products and services, taking the shape of mobile applications for small investments, financial education chatbots, decentralised peer-to-peer lending platforms, and more.
The students challenged themselves to bring to life mature projects, ready to be implemented. Each of the 11 teams was supported by the LTS coaches and a range of international mentors coming from the finance and technology industries, as well as those tackling financial inclusion directly, with concrete experience on the ground – notably on the African market – which provided valuable real-world perspective.
On Sunday afternoon, after an intensive weekend, the students pitched their ideas in front of a jury composed of Bénédicte Godefroid, Project Manager at ADA; Hilda Moraa, CEO of Pezesha; Eric Busch, CEO of Nexten.io; Rasha Negm, Head of Fintech and Innovation at the Central Bank of Egypt and Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT.
After intense deliberation, the 3 top prizes went to:
- 1st Prize to Loan4All with a money prize of 1600 euros
- 2nd Prize to Savify with a money prize of 900 euros
- 3rd Prize to Synergy with a money prize of 500 euros
Yves Maas, Chairman, Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière commented: “The “Fondation ABBL pour l’éducation financière” is proud to encourage this type of initiative. Firstly, for its ultimate goal, to find innovative solutions to facilitate financial inclusion for all, and secondly, to stimulate the creativity and innovative ideas of young people in the digital area. The approach of this hackathon clearly reflects the conclusions of recent studies revealing that digital financial literacy makes financial education more effective.”
Sergio Coronado, Founder & Chairman, LTS added: “A very important element in education is the context, we must teach around real business and societal issues. Digital financial inclusion to fight poverty is a very important societal topic and with the impressive ideas and projects the young hackathon international participants came up with after only 2 days of intensive work, we successfully showed the industry that innovation and quality is possible at an early age.”
Nasir Zubairi, CEO of the LHoFT, concluded: “As can be expected now from LTS, the standards of the projects in the hackathon were incredibly high. It is so inspiring to see these young talents showing such a mature grasp of problems and coming up with practical and well-developed solutions. What they achieve over the course of a few days is amazing. Well done to all.”
About the Luxembourg Tech School
The Luxembourg Tech School A.s.b.l (LTS for short) is an extracurricular school concept to support the development of future Digital Leaders. It is aimed at 11-19 years old students who are passionate about the digital realm and eager to learn and apply technology in a real creative and business context. The first pilot started September 2016 with about 30 students from the Lycées at the Geesseknäppchen Campus. This was an immediate success and LTS is now in more than 10 schools and is coaching more than 200 students. Students follow a business, technology and creativity program divided into three blocks. They get personalized coaching and work on their own projects, which they showcase at the end of each block.
The Hackathon Teams and their Ideas/Projects
|SeguroSMS||An KaiOS/android application that encrypts texts and sends it as an SMS to our server. The server decrypts the SMS and forwards it as an HTTPS request to Safaricom’s API. Sync keys between users and our servers using diffie hellman key exchange. We provide a pseudo number between connections from our servers to Safaricom’s servers to prevent ads. More on this in the column below. Users can create an account just using their phone number wherein, they are able to easily liquidate, store, and transfer their money to others with the same platform through SMS. |
No internet is needed for users to do this. How Users register using instructions given by our chatbot interface and hence an SMS confirmation of an account creation. At any given time, they would be able to liquidate their money through Safaricom’s network of banksites, where users can then transfer it to others using our app. Purpose/Goal Having done some market research, we found that a lot of people had problems regarding their privacy and security with apps such as M-Pesa, and generally through Safaricom, which is why we are focused on adding and enforcing security measures to address the main complaints of consumers in those markets (see Security for more). Special Side Features 1) An application that encrypts and decrypts SMS’s 2) User actions through a chatbot 3) Minimalist design makes it easier to navigate through the app
|Juvinvest||Our idea is to create an application that provides a platform to invest money in small businesses. As investors we would mainly target people in developed countries (US and Europe) that would be willing to make small investments. We want to give an opportunity to small businesses that are situated in small communities. For these communities, even small investments would be very helpful. |
Our role in this operation would be to be the middlemen between the investors and the small businesses: we would make sure to hire people in the respective region that check the honesty of these businesses. In addition, we would like to combine this great idea with an SMS chat bot that locals can contact to get answers about loans and how to actually apply these ideas. Our goal is to improve the financial situation and to teach about finance and business. By doing so we would guide people to fight poverty . In this regard, the application through which we would like to reach out to people would be free to use.
|Synergy||The idea is to have an app where small businesses in need can go to get help. They create a profile and post what their business is and the help they need to grow. Normal consumers will see these post and can interact with the profiles. They can comment, they can like the posts, they can personally perhaps donate or lend some money, text them privately, etc. Big businesses will have access to this app. They will also create a profile and can help these small businesses. The posts with a lot of likes will incentivize bigger businesses to help these smaller businesses grow to improve their image. They will post how they help these small businesses in need. And as consumers see how these bigger businesses help the smaller businesses in need, they can directly buy from the bigger companies. This will further incentivize the bigger businesses to participate.|
|E.D.U (Economic Development Unit)||General idea: Our idea is to create an educational platform destined at people who live in rural/poor countries/areas. It is also important to notice that we focus on an audience who have access to internet as the percentage of internet coverage increases worldwide. What exactly? : Our platform focuses on teaching them about basic economic knowledge and how to manage their money independently. We teach them for example about loans, how to spend money smarter or save a good amount of it each month. |
The chatbot We will implement a chatbot to educate the users on Finance. The chatbot returns smart responses to the user’s questions. It is preloaded with a full course about different aspects of finance and how to make smart decisions when it comes to money. The course is divided into different chapters each tackling a specific concept of finance. The course is designed to be relatively simple so that it could be accessible to whoever wants to have a better financial life. Chapters can be skipped or revisited. There are end-of-chapter questions that test the user’s grasp of the concept discussed. The bot can also redirect the user to videos that explain the idea in a more in-depth manner. With a little investment other features may be added later on. These features include : 1-Personalized sessions tailored by the bot’s A.I to the user’s financial status. 2-Booking sessions with a financial experts for more help.
|Loan4All||Loan4All is a decentralised peer-to-peer lending platform that aims to give people without access to traditional financial institutions the ability to give and receive loans. The Loan4All platform is mobile first, allowing loans in the form of stablecoins (blockchain based tokens pegged to fiat currencies) to be issued and taken. |
There is no central financial institution that would grant the loans. The platform is peer to peer and connects users that have money to give as a loan with users who wish to receive a loan. The platform has no collateral requirement, making it available to people with all kinds of financial backgrounds.
As an incentive for users to give loans and for users receiving the loan to pay back correctly, there is a fixed low interest rate. In addition, users would receive “social money” – a native token which can be spent on partner sites – as a reward for proper use of the platform. The received “social money” rewards would grow as both the lenders and the receivers of the loan use the platform properly.
To ensure proper usage of the platform, the amount of money that can be borrowed is limited in the beginning, but then increases with every repayment of previously borrowed money. In case the money does not get paid back, the debt can be sold to a debt collection agency (where the institution would then chase the person for repayment by seizing assets).
|Savify||Savify encourages individuals to effectively save and keep track of their finances by rewarding users with points for consistently saving and promotes businesses and NGOs who can have their own tracks and sponsorship prizes which users can redeem with their in-game currency. Moreover, Savify provides insightful information on saving habits and interests of users to businesses, and users can set up custom goals for specific products that they receive as soon as they save up enough money for that particular good or service. Finally, users can compete with friends and users globally to see who can save most consistently with the in-app leaderboard.|
|Gecko Finances||The main goal of this solution is to enable people to independently lift themselves out of poverty by using micro- investments and aiding them in financial planning. This is created by some sort of account/card system similar to what you would encounter in supermarkets (purchase points). But here, we use savings from purchases directly. We accumulate small portion of money when the user places any purchase whether online or offline. On the long run those savings can add up to a large sum of money without impacting the financial status of the user negatively. |
This is a two-way system at the same time. The app/system could be used by people of more advantaged backgrounds in the sense that their microinvestments/ savings could be redirected to charitable organizations. This is accompanied by a mobile app for financial managing. The application would act as a platform for financial management and education by planning ahead payments and offering training courses, as well as advising the user on money managing by recommending micro-loans (easily repayable). A simpler version of the app would also be available for Fitbit to allow for fast and easy financial transactions. In addition to that it would use biometrics as a way of identity confirmation with also a room for blockchain implementation for more security.
|Megimeru||Megimeru will target different age groups with interesting themes for each one. The user can choose a level and will be directed to the game that suits him/her. The aim of this game is to deliver some basics of financial education through an easy and engaging game. |
The game will have a storyline (eg.a farm project), where he/she will learn lessons from each level. Then the player will have to answer easy, intermediate or advanced questions.
|FarmClusion||Our project idea consists of creating a mobile app and website which is targeted at the financially and technologically excluded farmers, which will help them be educated about financial aspects such as: Concept of monetary value Concept of paying bills saving, having a budget Understanding investing Improving farming Concept of maximizing sales: |
– Concept of basic financial products
– Practicing decision makingThe idea also includes education about technological implementation into agriculture like modernised tech, since farmers may not even be aware of the latest tech in the market. Modern tech could increase profits and reduce food contamination and reduce need of water and chemicals/fertilizers for crops.
|Eli||It is an application that simplifies financial terms in contracts and application forms for people who are having trouble dealing with large banking institutions and allowing them to fill it in via the app and thus acting as a middleman between banks and the financially illiterate. This is done to aid the financially illiterate and give them access to capital thereby bringing people out of poverty and helping local banks gain more consumers.|
|Koala Fund Grouping||The idea is about connecting people with similar goals,need, financial ability together for ex: we have 5 people each will pay 500$ a month and each one of them will take 2500$on his turn which might be 1st, 2nd or 5th month It’s interest free Provides safe money keeping as we will verify people identity with their phone number And will respond to need of money incase of any bad event Accessible to everyone with variety of monthly payments as we accept creating a new group funds with requested monthly payment.|