Presciense Win Barclays Rise Hackathon 2016
Presciense was one of 547 teams that competed in the Barclays Rise Hackathon, held in Manchester, UK and Mumbai, India. These intense events are opportunities to try out new things, and in this case it was the first time Barclays had released their APIs (application programming interfaces) to external developers. Over just 36 hours, the Presciense team built a working prototype from scratch, which impressed the judges and earned them the top prize for their category, The Payments Parallax.
Lee Crossley explained "Our idea for the Rise Hackathon was to combine Amazon's Alexa Voice Services with Barclays payment APIs on our In-Home Display (IHD). This allows utility customers to make prepayments and credit payments for gas, electricity and water consumption."
Barclays asked competitors to develop an interaction model that provided the trust and security people expect when making financial transactions. Now that voice technologies are becoming more familiar, users anticipate that it will be incorporated into an increasing variety of interactions. Alexa is both intuitive to use and it continually learns dialect and voice patterns, a feature that Presciense capitalised on in their crowd-pleasing demonstration which illustrated that the device copes with a Mancunian accent. "Alexa makes it more convenient for customers to pay their bills, and further voice functionality gives them awareness of their historic and projected gas, electricity and water spend."
Not only does making payments using the IHD itself save people from having to use a separate app on another device, or go to a shop to top-up their account, it also saves them money. The low-cost payments enabled by Barclays' APIs (for P2P, bill payment and, in the future, PSD transaction) can result in a significant reduction in utilities costs for households that rely on prepayment tariffs. Prepayment tariffs are vital for helping people to manage their budgets and avoid debt, but traditionally these tariffs have been amongst the highest, because they must also cover the costs associated with the extra layers of retailers and brokers who facilitate prepayment systems. Presciense's unique combination of Alexa Voice Services and Barclays' APIs streamlined the top-up process, and makes for an excellent user experience.
In addition to experimenting with innovative technologies, participating in hackathons can be hugely motivating, especially when you win them. For Presciense's top developers to have achieved this victory is another stamp of approval for their hard work. Earlier in 2016, Presciense won the Internet of Things category at TNW Europe, and polls from event attendees indicated that the company was in the top 3 start-ups that were showcased at the conference. Healthy competition and positive feedback such as this enhance Presciense's commitment to leading the way in smart home technologies.