Feature Stories

03.01.2018

UHackFin Brings Inaugural FinTech Week to a Successful Conclusion

Giving participants 24 hours to turn ideas into reality, the first UHackFin, or FinTech hackathon, organized by the HKUST Business School was hailed as an overwhelming success by all involved.

UHackFin was a competition open to current students and alumni of tertiary-level institutions in Hong Kong, and 24 teams took the opportunity to combine creative ideas with technical skills to build a new app, system or product with the potential to disrupt the finance industry.

Run with the support of the HKUST Entrepreneurship Center and sponsored by Alibaba Cloud, UHackFin took place on 4 and 5 November, bringing the inaugural FinTech University week to a successful conclusion.

HKUST President Tony Chan, who presented prizes to the hackathon winners at the awards ceremony, said the hackathon and the week-long program of FinTech-related events was another example of how HKUST is putting its resources and know-how behind Hong Kong's efforts to develop and promote the industry.

Ability to identify "real" industry challenges

The 15-member panel of judges complimented all participants on their ability to identify "real" industry challenges and develop innovative solutions. These involved everything from secure voice recognition to managing stock portfolios and assessing credit ratings.

The judges, all from the business sector, noted that these types of projects could make a difference in the world of finance and beyond. They also praised the unique concepts, insightful presentations, clever use of technology, and completeness of the work done. In addition, they noted that the approaches taken to resolving “pain points” and easing customer friction could be of lasting consequence.

The winning team, Kibbutz, of Clement Gohlke, Lucas Gaylord and Long Hoong devised a solution for the long-standing issue of how to allocate and account for money donated to charities. The Year 4 HKUST computer science students impressed with a combination of algorithms and Bitcoin used for transactions and verification. 

“We received immediate interest in our project as a concept that can be further developed,” said Clement.

The wining trio used the latest technology to demonstrate that FinTech is not just about applications for financial services, but has relevance for anywhere transactions and payments take place. Long said UHackFin was the best organized hackathon he has participated in and was grateful for the advice and encouragement given by judges throughout the 24-hour period. The winners received HK$20,000; first runner-up team Expeditioner got HK$10,000; and second runner-up team Buzo took home HK$8,000.

FinTech in Hong Kong: Opportunities and Challenges

The week-long FinTech events began with a session at which alumni shared their insights and experiences regarding opportunities and challenges amid the rise of FinTech. Three entrepreneurs took part: Samson Lee (MBA/MSc), Co-founder of Ethereum South China and South Asia, a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts applications; Jonathan Lee (BBA in Finance), Co-founder of 300cubits, a blockchain initiative relieving the “pain points” within the container shipping industry; and Bianca Ho (BBA in Global Business), Co-founder of Clare.AI, an end-to-end digital assistant solution which focuses on real data from the financial industry.

Following their presentations, the three joined a panel discussion moderated by Professor Hui Kai Lung, Chair Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Information Systems, Business Statistics and Operations Management.

Also featured during the week were a series of career and company talks by our faculty and industry experts, presenting to participants an outlook of the financial services sector driven by technology in the coming years.

An extension of HK FinTech Week

The exciting week of FinTech events organized by the HKUST Business School echoed the Hong Kong FinTech Week led by Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), which drew more than 4,000 attendees from over 50 countries. The Hong Kong FinTech Week was followed by “FinTech Education Week”, which started on 30 October, involving a series of FinTech events at other locations, and universities in the city including the HKUST Business School - with a goal to become a major intellectual powerhouse of FinTech.