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CPBJ Extra Blog

How about a hackathon for Pennsylvania banks?

Mobile smartphone technology feels like it's been around forever, but it's been only a couple years.

So it’s impossible for anyone to be perfect when it comes to the fairly new industry. Companies are still toying and tinkering with the technology to give consumers the best, safest experience possible.

Boy, does the banking industry know that. Mobile technology like smartphone apps that have streamlined the consumer experience are growing almost daily, and customers are demanding new things from their banking apps just as quickly.

Small banks often say they don’t have the resources to compete technologically with the bigger banks, so it’s taken some creative thinking to give their customers what they want in a mobile app or in mobile banking to keep them from jumping to a bank that does offer those services.

Now a bank in Israel with operations stateside has devised another out-of-the-box way of coming up with new mobile technology, as Bank Leumi is sponsoring a “hackathon” to develop new mobile technology for consumers.

A hackathon is the nickname for an intense competition held over a few days or a week to develop new technology. The bank’s hackathon will be held Oct. 22 and 23 in Tel Aviv.

From the competition website:

“Business apps, Internet of things, virtual wallets, bank-client user experiences and bank-client social media as well as productivity apps are the key points in this innovating step forward proposed at the Leumi hackathon. If you are a developer, designer, startuper, student or passionate about new technology and banking, come and take part in inventing the bank of tomorrow in just 36 straight hours.”

And for once, the fine print is the good news: 100 percent of the code created belongs to the participants.

The contest is giving away 50,000 shekels (more than $14,000) and other prizes.

Wait ... we’re as good as Israel, right? Why aren’t we doing this? Why not get one just for Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Community Bankers Association or something, and the winner could sell the technology to a consortium of smaller community banks that don’t have the technology capabilities yet but need it to compete with the big boys?

I know “collaboration” and “banking” aren’t two things that usually go hand in hand, but we’re in crisis mode. A community bank can’t make a positive move in today’s banking world without hearing something like, “I wonder if they’re doing that to make them look better to a potential buyer?”

And talking to People Who Know Things over the last year, it’s pretty clear that if community banks can’t keep up with the rapidly changing technology — especially mobile technology — they’re going to be in danger of losing customers, being gobbled up by a bigger bank or becoming irrelevant.

So let’s do this: A hackathon for Pennsylvania banks with under $500 million in assets, and interested banks can join together to use that technology to develop their own apps or mobile sites.

Any takers?

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