Just recently on Friday, February 2nd through Sunday, February 4th, the Wharton Undergraduate FinTech Group hosted University of Pennsylvania's inaugural FinTech undergraduate Hackathon – WUFT Hacks 2018. It was a busy weekend filled with lots of hacking and exciting activities for all participants.
Def Hacks had the privilege of partnering with WUFT in organizing this event. In addition to providing free coach-bus transportation for 50 students from universities in NYC, Def Hacks sent multiple representatives from our executive team to attend the event.
Though it was WUFT’s first ever Hackathon, Founder and President Cole Pergament and the WUFT team did not hold back at all. The entire weekend’s festivities were held at the beautiful Sofitel Hotel in Center City, Philadelphia. There were numerous teams comprising of students from five prestigious universities, Penn, Columbia, Harvard, Cornell, NYU and Lehigh. In addition, three supporting organizations were present, including Wharton FinTech MBA, Def Hacks Incorporated, and Lehigh FinTech Group. For the hack’s festivities, WUFT was able to provide all attendees with discounts beginning at 20% at Philadelphia’s best restaurants, some of which included Vetri Pizza, Veda, and Hip City Veg.
Another notable aspect of the hackathon were its three impressive sponsors, TD Bank, TradeWeb, and Virtusa. Throughout the weekend, in addition to judging the hacking activities, many of the sponsors provided mentors to help guide the students and assist with hacking questions. Sponsors also conducted workshops for the participants to attend throughout the weekend. On Saturday, TD Bank hosted a highly successful and informative FinTech Workshop. Additionally, Virtusa and Virtusa xLabs each hosted a workshop on Friday and Saturday of the competition.
The stakes were high, with over $10,000 awarded in prize money for designing new banking solutions. The prompts given to students for the competition involved innovation within big data and payment solutions, touching on both client and employee-facing aspects. Participants met with representatives from TD Bank and Virtusa, did extensive research, and visited a nearby TD Bank branch to talk with tellers about challenges they face on a daily basis. From improving teller interaction with customers through data analytics, to creating a functioning app that facilitates the transfer of loans, students gained an understanding of the industry that few outside of it have.
A key take-away from the event is one that all hackers can carry with them beyond the festivities of the weekend – the importance of FinTech solutions in today’s banking space. Technology is becoming more integral to the finance world every day; customers are transferring money to one another, paying bills, depositing checks, and investing digitally. Still, existing systems can be improved upon and new ones created, which is why companies like TD bank are so excited to get an outside perspective from students.
It certainly was a long 48 hours, but very rewarding. This conference was the most enriching and valuable event that the club has organized to date. The event was a monumental success and WUFT is already looking forward to seeing new and returning students and schools at the second annual WUFT Hacks next year.