Endorsing Financial Inclusion: AUC Venture Lab Launches PayHack Digital Payments Hackathon
Gathering developers, coders, bankers, finance professionals, entrepreneurs, and fintech professionals, AUC Venture Lab’s PayHack, which ran between June 17-21, aimed to support the role digital payment platforms have been playing in maintaining business during the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage an advanced Egyptian digital community.
Despite the proliferation of digital payment technologies, several communities and segments in Egypt still use cash as the primary transaction method. From schools, syndicates, and government offices, to clubs, food outlets, and closed communities, some still don’t see the benefits of transitioning to digital and don’t know how digital tools can fit within their model to create more seamless and efficient overall experiences. Therefore, the question remains: how can we design digital tools that incentivize underserved segments by catering to their unique needs?
Aiming to tackle that very question, the AUC Venture Lab’s Fintech Accelerator, powered by the Commercial International Bank (CIB) and in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), launched PayHack, the first virtual digital payments hackathon that enabled participants to dive deep into the digital payments landscape in Egypt.
"AUC Venture Lab Fintech Accelerator has been fortunate enough to work with more than 40 FinTech startups since its launch in 2016. Along with our partners CIB and IFC, we continue to expand our commitment to advancing the sector towards enhanced and diversified financial offerings for the Egyptian population,” communicates AUC Venture Lab Associate Director Mohamed Hamza, adding: “We hold great pride in catalyzing financial innovations through awareness and support through PayHack, the first of a number of outreach activities that we will be leading this year, engaging and increasing awareness of young professionals to use the opportunity created by COVID-19 measures to discover the space, its challenges, and provide support in coming up with efficient solutions.”
Throughout the hackathon, bringing about over 100 entrepreneurs, teams of 4-5 participants explored essential tools and worked with seasoned entrepreneurs as they build relevant and functional solutions to solve a digital payment challenge and encourage financial inclusion. This five-day journey included workshops delivered by subject matter experts, business mentorship offered by seasoned professionals, technical coaching delivered by tech gurus, hackathon sessions on the best international innovation practices for digital payments and fintech, a webinar on opportunities in digital payments, and more.
The winning team, Hollydesk, received 50K EGP to help speed the process of bringing their idea to life along with a free integration setup and 3 months of waived subscription fees from payment gateway PayTabs,
“I’m so proud to have been a small part of PayHack. It was a remarkable experience. It helped us a lot to validate the idea and move forward with launching our MVP, and we were lucky that it all happened with the help of a variety of experts,” said Mohamed Moussa from Hollydesk.
Meanwhile, the second-place team, Togo, received a 20K EGP along with a free integration setup from PayTabs, while the top three finalists received a business and operations mentorship session by AUC Venture Lab Senior Advisor Mohamed Younis, business modeling session by AUC Venture Lab Associate Director Mohamed Hamza, and got fast-tracked to the AUC Venture Lab Bootcamp, bringing them one step closer to joining the Fintech Accelerator.
“It was a great opportunity for the team behind Togo App. It encouraged us to continue developing our work. The mentors and organizers were really keen on helping us, providing us with advice and honestly sharing their feedback over the five days,” reflects Togo team member Ahmed Mahmoud.
The hackathon couldn’t have been possible without the support of the esteemed mentors and judges. Judges Hany Soliman, general manager at PayTabs Egypt, Mariam Kamel, manager at AUC Angels, Mohamed El Gaby, head of Global Transaction Banking Governance and Support at the Commercial International Bank (CIB), along with more than 10 business and fintech experts and practicing entrepreneurs, came together to support the participants as they developed their solutions, backed by their invaluable expertise.
"Looking at how the fintech space has evolved in Egypt, we have seen that up-and-coming entrepreneurs truly have the potential to instigate real changes and enhance the financial ecosystem. The entrepreneurial spirit and ideas are earnest, but oftentimes, they lack the focus and guidance to frame efforts into real-life solutions that address real market needs. That is why AUC Venture Lab serves as a focal point where innovative ideas get to meet real market needs and expertise,” expresses Mostafa Hassanein, Fintech program coordinator. “Events like PayHack are a great opportunity to not only guide but also stimulate innovative ideas that later on enhance the current Fintech pipeline. Such events foster young startups that know what the market needs and how they can position themselves to disrupt and elevate the financial ecosystem."
The AUC Venture Lab Fintech Accelerator is currently accepting applications