MasterCard has brought developers from across the world together to take simple ideas to innovative new commerce concepts through its Masters Of Code Hackathons. Sebastien Taveau, Chief Developer Evangelist and VP of Open API at MasterCard, sat down with MPD CEO Karen Webster to reflect on what both unites and inspires these teams to give it their all. His conclusion? They each take a “no fear” approach to innovation – driven by what they see are problems to be solved, not the complexity of the payments system that underpins it.
MasterCard’s Masters of Code Hackathon continues to make its global rounds – moving from city to city, showcasing the innovations of developers, designers and entrepreneurs tasked with using MasterCard-supplied APIs to create next-gen applications.
In the seventh stop on the list of participating cities, MasterCard brought together San Francisco’s developer community to create new technologies fitting with the event’s Social Good theme, meaning apps geared toward invoking a strong local impact while also being able to reach a global scale.
There’s no doubt the San Francisco Bay area is home to some of the best minds in tech, casting great expectations upon the possible innovations and creativity to come out of the technology hub.
According to Taveau, the San Francisco participants did not disappoint.
“The beauty of this type of event is some developers arrive without the understanding of how the financial industry works or the restrictions and regulation that come with it,” Taveau explained.
“Then they come up with these ideas that are great and then you look a bit deeper beyond the way the application is built and you see it could actually work.”
Developers were provided with a foundation of the functions and complexities of the commerce ecosystem prior to the start of the competition, but Taveau said it was still important to make sure no barriers were placed on the innovation and creativity being brought to the table.
“We want them to go and explore and see what they come up with,” said Taveau, noting that encouraging this type of creative approach also provides MasterCard with great insight on the types of solutions that may drive future iterations of payment technologies.
While the developers are there to solve commerce problems, keeping track of all of the different actors and moving pieces that make up the payments world while trying to create new solutions can be a lot to take in.
So what was the best advice Taveau shared with the developers as they prepared to throw their hats into the ring?
Tackle the problem with no fear.
And that’s exactly what they did, sparking numerous debates amongst the judges along the way as to who should walk away with the top prize.
Taveau confirmed it was no easy feat to pick the winner, but ultimately it went to Team Dave, which created an automated service based on price protection — a benefit many credit card providers offer but few consumers actually know about or take advantage of.
It’s a little-known fact that with some credit cards, if an item is purchased and the price drops within the following 90 days, consumers are owed the difference in price from the credit card company. By building on this price protection benefit, the team created an automated system to get this money to the consumer, while also allowing funds to be redistributed to a charity of the consumer’s choice.
“It was a win-win-win situation: The consumer gets money back they didn’t even know they had, they can then make a donation to a charity they like and that charity receives funds they wouldn’t have expected otherwise,” Taveau added.
Not only are these hackathon events brimming with innovation, they also shine a light on the stories behind the work and what drives the problem-solving nature of the developers in the first place.
For Taveau, just being surrounded by the stories of those who changed something or tried to better the world around them by making sure a problem could be solved is an inspiration in itself.
“Generally we are seeing a lot of solutions addressing social good or society improvements because many of these developers try to pull from their own personal experiences or problems they may be facing to create solutions that will help and serve the community as a whole,” he explained.
There are tons of great ideas out there, but taking it from a concept to reality is no easy feat, which is why MasterCard’s Masters of Code competitions serve as a platform and helping hand to developers working through the innovation stage.
Next up, the competition will head to Istanbul, Turkey, where Taveau has high hopes about the caliber of creativity that will be seen due to the country’s strong telecommunications and banking industries.
“Turkey is the crossroad of Europe and Asia. I expect to see a lot of great ideas,” he said.
Here’s the video of MasterCard’s Masters of Code event in San Francisco as told through six participants: