The winners of the MasterCard NXT Developer Challenge were announced yesterday evening after 20 teams of developers had coded for over 30 hours, developing mobile payment solutions using MasterCard’s API.
The “PayMint” team was declared the winners for the student category while “MovieTickle” emerged victorious in the professional category. Each team took home $10,000 as part of their winning solutions. (A CIBC people’s choice prize of $10,000 will also be awarded in one month’s time)
We profiled Payment yesterday as part of our brief snapshot into some of the teams and what they were developing. PayMint was made up of a group of four friends (including a set of twins). Victor and Winston Zhang, from the University of Toronto and Queens University, Jeremy Wang from the University of Waterloo and Michael Fok, from the University of Alberta, developed a new wireless Bluetooth 4.0-enabled, proximity-based mobile payment system.Using the app and MasterCard’s servers, merchants can send users a charge, and those users can send their payments instantly. Bluetooth technology can detect devices within about 10 metres, and can detect about 20 people at a time in that range, so the technology could work well in a live-event capacity. The Air Canada Centre in Toronto already has iPad-wielding waitresses who walk up and down rows taking orders from event-goers. Instead of those fans yelling orders over the seven people between them and the waitress, they could simply use Paymint’s app via their smartphone.
“PayMint used a variation on the iBeacon payment model by integrating MasterCard’s Simplify Commerce API with Bluetooth LE. Their reasoning, which was sound, was that while NFC appears to be easier, it also alienates the iPhone market, which is a significant portion of the North American public,” said one of the judges, MobileSyrup‘s Daniel Bader. “The demo was pretty basic but it was compelling.”
Their competition was The Coyotes, an impressive group of 16 and 17-year-olds who had already claimed first prize at a robotics competition when they built a robot that could shoot frisbees across a 50-foot-field into small targets. The solution they developed over the weekend was an app that allows users to make payments via NFC technology on credit cards, while allowing friends to split bills. It’s a paperless solution for merchants that also includes coupons and trivia games to boost user engagement.
Meanwhile for the professional category, MovieTickle was selected. (MovieTickle previously referred to themselves as the “Adjoining Dipsticks”, a name which was randomly computer generated.)
Using the MasterCard API, MovieTickle is an app that allows moviegoers to select and purchase movie tickets with detailed descriptions of each movie playing at a given theatre. They can even select the seat they want to sit in, which will allow the venue to know exactly where they are. While viewing the movie, users can purchase snacks and drinks right from their seat and theatre employees can deliver those refreshments to the seat. In MovieTickle’s estimation, it will enhance the movie-seeing experience.
“For the future of movies, our team wanted to imagine that paying for things doesn’t interrupt the actual experience. Our end goal is to enhance the experience of purchasing popcorn,” said a member of MovieTickle to the panel of judges yesterday.
The group said that once the user is in the theatre, the app is no longer just for selecting and purchasing a movie ticket, but it becomes the ticket. They said its a win-win for both the venue owner and the moviegoer. “For the venue owner, they’re now able to increase sales because people don’t have to interrupt their movie-going experience to grab snacks and purchase things. For the actual movie goer, their screen enhances the actual experience.”
Bader said that MovieTickle’s mockup was detailed, and the judges could see a marketable product. “MovieTickle was a bit more interesting, as they proposed to offer a white labeled version of their theatre back-end software, which hooks into MasterCard’s payment APIs, to offer movie payments, seat selection and even concession payments from the seat itself,” he said.
The other two finalists for the professional category was “YesTap” and “Space Bears”. YesTap was a simplified commerce API that allows users to tap their phones on menus laid out in restaurants like McDonalds, for instant ordering. They figured that too much time is wasted in the traditional format of waiting in line and telling a cashier what you want, so with YesTap, people can order from a menu before actually entering the restaurant.
Meanwhile the Space Bear’s “Donk” solution was a tap and go payment system that leverages geolocation to allow users to turn their mobile devices into a POS. “It pretty much turns any device into a point-of-sale terminal,” said a member of Space Bears.
“All five teams had good ideas, but the two teams that won had that nugget of a product that was capable of making a real difference in peoples’ day to day commerce experience,” said Bader.
In referring to MovieTickle, Bader said that “it was also easy to see a revenue model through licensing, something that the rest were somewhat lacking.”
Of interesting note was that several of the teams, whether they won or not, noted the value of the developer challenge. Many said that the challenge was more organized and higher-quality than other hackathons.
“I think it’s a lot of fun,” said PayMint’s Victor Zhang. “It’s great to really use technology to build a final product that you can see and test, and I think its fun to be able to be with your friends and build amazing things.”
Members from team “Karma Police” said they would have never accomplished at home what they did during the weekend, even if they had two months. “Someone has to take initiatives like this so young stars like us, university students who don’t have time to do this in two days, can get a chance to do that right now,” said Khan Obyoy Azad, a computer science student at York University. “Right now MasterCard gave us that chance and we’re networking a lot, we’re gaining a lot of experience and we’re learning.”
Azad also mentioned that mentors who were provided for the teams ended up helping a lot. Their’s posed questions and challenged them on different aspects of their idea, something they evidently appreciated.