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When Great Ideas Collide

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Duane Williams from INTERAC presenting first prize to OpenSports

Once in a while the phrase “a day filled with meetings” can carry a surprisingly positive, energy-saturated vibe. April 26th was a day like that, as our small team of senior developers and product executives spent hours listening to pitches and ideas in a boardroom at Communitech – an 80,000 square-foot, three-storey hub in Waterloo, Ontario that anchors a large part of Canada’s technology start-up community and the large enterprises that are an increasingly important part of it.

 
Our team was there to judge eight participating start-ups and to award money and one-year mentorships to three winners. But more importantly, it was there to listen to the innovative ideas presented by eight teams of founders about how their products and services could take advantage of, and create customer value from, our soon-to-be-released 3rd-party API, which will give outside developers access to our “payment rails” for the sending and requesting of funds, and which we expect to spark new ideas and new services with faster payments embedded in their value propositions. As we described in our recent white paper, Principles of a Modernized Payments System, openness is one of the five guiding principles for the ongoing development of our platform – and both our 3rd-party API and our hosting of this “Collision Day” (as Communitech calls its day-long engagements between enterprises and start-ups) are expressions of this principle.

 
The eight participating teams had already passed a selection process that reviewed a broader pool of thirty-two start-ups, so as we expected each had interesting and well-developed ideas to offer. We heard from Universe about how our platform could help speed and manage the flows of funds between parties in the complicated and uncertain new home buying process, from Rhombus about their plans to integrate our payment rails into their bot-driven Messenger and SMS-based offering for customer support and e-commerce, and from Twyne about cutting long donation lines at charitable events (and eliminating credit-card-related payment holdups for charities) by embedding our functionality in their app. Underscoring the value of “faster”, foreign funds transfer provider Curexe showed how our payment rails would speed his customers’ money to or from their international vendors or customers, and payroll solutions company Payment Evolution demonstrated how our “send money” and “request money” capabilities could be used to cut payroll funds transfer times from 4 days down to an hour.

 
All of these participants impressed us. But our three winners managed to distinguish themselves through their creativity, the clarity of their value propositions, and the strength of their presentations, among other criteria. Navi has been using artificial intelligence to help publishers autonomously curate relevant feeds for mobile users, and now plans to leverage this technology in the development of an “autopilot for the back office” – enabling small to medium-sized enterprises in the food services and entertainment industries to seamlessly pay vendors and process invoices. dibbzz has identified a valuable niche with live event organizers, who need an easy way to allow attendees to upgrade to unsold seats when actually at a performance – and real-time funds transfer would save each user a time-consuming trip to the box office. And first prize winner OpenSports has developed an app that makes organizing, participating in, and paying for pick-up sports activities in a local area easy and intuitive, a natural and social-media-savvy fit for our real-time payments capabilities.

 
We’re looking forward to working with our winners over the next twelve months to refine and test their ideas through our API and in real-world conditions. And we’re also looking forward to digesting and thinking about the implications of the full range of ideas that our eight participants presented to us at the event. We couldn’t have asked for a better day filled with meetings.

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