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UofT Hacks Brings Voice and Tap to INTERAC e-Transfer

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Last week, we were at UofT Hacks; a 36-hour hack event where 500 students from (literally) all over the world came to Toronto to collaborate and build using API’s from companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM.

Jordan Crombie, our Digital Product & Platform Architect leading a workshop on the INTERAC e-Transfer Public API

During the event, we gave hackathon attendees access to a beta version of the Interac e-Transfer Public API, specifically the Request Money feature. In more ways than one this hackathon was an important test of a few projects we’ve been working on behind the scenes: a new design for the developer centre, updated documentation, integration of the developer centre with a single-sign on provider, and our ability to stay awake for 36 hours straight. Most importantly this hackathon was a test of the Interac e-Transfer Public API and the Request Money feature.

The Journey

Releasing an API out into the world is a complex process, regardless of how big or small the API or the company releasing it.

Before being released into the market, a company has to decide how they’re going to release this API to the market. This adds another layer of complexity: often there’s no blueprint to follow. Interac is unique in that we provide APIs to our financial institution partners. Now we’re looking at how we can extend what we offer to the larger community, and help accelerate bank sponsored innovation. This involves actively testing how to extend the APIs we have so that they serve real needs in the Canadian market.

Many of the teams here have put in a lot of work to build the Interac e-Transfer Public API. As part of this, we’re creating our own blueprint that is equal parts input and output: getting a better understanding of how the larger developer communities want to build on the platform by working with the community and participating in events. Then going back to the office and incorporating feedback into our product release cycles.

And the winner is…

Overall, the hackathon was a success. Attendees were able to build some amazing apps and solutions: one group built an integration with Slack, and a few groups created apps that allowed users to send requests for money using NFC.

The winners of our challenge ($1000 to the best ‘hack’ or app built using the API) created a Google Assistant extension that allowed users to send requests for money and track outstanding requests. The group truly embodied the spirit of the weekend: they made something new, learned how to use the API and made friends. When presenting to us, they didn’t just show us their app — they thought of ways they could take ‘Interac with Google Assistant’ to the next level and shared with us their challenges.

Now that the hackathon is over we’re taking in what we’ve learned and incorporating key findings into our next product releases. With bank sponsored innovation we’re focused on making it easier for our community to leverage the Interac e-Transfer features everyone knows in new, compelling and creative ways.

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