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2016
mcafiero

Money2020 Hackathon

Posted by mcafiero Oct 25, 2016

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One thing is for certain; this year's Money2020 hackathon was not void of any of the usual spirit, camaraderie, and passion that you'd expect from some of the country's best innovators.

 

The event began with an explosively motivating opening ceremony, where our own team, led by Matt Ozvat that included Dan Ourada, Josh Mather, Tony Rose, and Scott DeAngelo, hit the stage with a variety of tech toys / gadgets and a broad, but noble challenge statement: "Solve a World Problem With Vantiv Payments Integrations".

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And just like that, the packed conference room at the Palazzo Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas  evolved into a scene of organized chaos that included the sounds of keyboards clicking away; intense stares into monitors, freshly opened bags of various snacks and hot, steaming coffee (LOTS of coffee).

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Meanwhile at the Vantiv booth, we encouraged participants to include the use of any of our gadgets, which included robotics such as Sphero, Cubelets, Echo, and the wildly popular Nao Robot, along with Verifone's freshly launched tablet solution, the Carbon, and the newest augmented reality tech product, HoloLens.

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One team in particular had picked the HoloLens for their solution.  Looking over at their table, you'd be hard pressed not to see the device being worn by various participants, heads swiveling around at every angle, outstretched, reaching, and flicking of fingers, and placing invisible objects here and there, while one could only wonder what exactly they were up to.  One thing's for certain: time was especially important, as the giant LED countdown timer at the front of the room constantly reminded everyone that time was precious and very limited.

HackathonArt.jpgThe Nao Robot was also a popular pick for more than one of our teams.  As fun and interesting as the robot is to work with, it proved to be a particularly challenging device for payments integration, at least within a practical sense.

C35T6532.JPGOther teams gravitated to the Verifone Carbon, which opens big doors to developers who want to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities that exist within the development of apps for this product.

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The hackers who remained in the early morning showed mixed emotions; head-scratching, eye-rubbing frustration along with some more optimistic signs of celebration that included high-fives and hugs among team mates surrounding stacks of half-empty pizza boxes and coffee cups.

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Slowly but surely, the energy started to pick up again.  Eventually, the time had ticked away, and all hackers were forced to step away from their keyboards.  It was now time to pitch.

 

Each team was offered an opportunity to pitch their concept to the company that they had picked.  A total of 7 teams of brilliant minds  lined up to show off their solution to the Vantiv judges.

 

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In the end, we were forced to pick just two teams who would represent Vantiv on the final stage:

 

First up, Nimit Sawhney, a one-person team with a solution that he named Adjutus, integrated Vantiv's Apple Pay on the Web API into the Spheros device, which he designed as a fun and engaging table-top device that could be "driven" around to individuals sitting at tables, communicating to them via their mobile phones, delivering stories of people and organizations in need, and offering them a simple way to do their good deed for the day: tap to donate to the cause of their choice, right there on impulse.  We wish we could show off his UX, as it was beautifully done.

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The other finalist on the Vantiv stage was a group of young hackers who called themselves Team HoloVantiv.  They took on an extremely technical challenge that integrated our Vantiv API into a single solution that utilized both our HoloLens as well as the Nao Robot.  With Augmented Reality and your  Nao Robot, you could theoretically pay for live Tai Chi lessons from the comfort of your living room, among other things!

 

The grand prize was ultimately awarded to another team, but at the end of the day, anyone who can create such incredibly complex solutions in 24 hours straight deserves to be recognized!  We're proud of all the teams who integrated Vantiv APIs into their solutions, and every other team out there as well.  As usual, the camaraderie, innovation, and energy left us feeling even more excited to do it again next year.

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Stay tuned into Twitter for more live updates, including several live-streaming interviews and broadcasts that can also be found on our own Vantiv O.N.E. Money2020 Hackathon space.

Merchants today are relying more and more on point of sale (POS) solutions and applications to run the store and make their day-to-day operations easier. Today’s POS has to be able to keep track of every product a merchant sells, from the moment it’s added into inventory, until it’s sold to a customer. And, it should have the ability to produce thousands of data points about the salespeople, customers, and how every sale occurred. It has become an incredibly powerful tool for merchants to grow their business. But between merchant expectations, and industry certifications and changing regulations, software developers have a lot to manage.

 

 

Semi-integrated POS solutions can help minimize the upfront effort and costs associated with certifications, and ease the total cost of ownership for merchants with a simple, singular interface to access all services. Rather than requiring the ISV to perform multiple certifications, the responsibility for device and platforms certification is transferred to the service provider. One example of a semi-integrated solution is triPOS from Vantiv.

 

triPOS was originally designed for Windows applications and quickly evolved to Linux machines. Over the last couple years, triPOS for PC has seen enormous success. Acutely aware of the acellerating demand for EMV support, Vantiv strategically designed triPOS to easily  expand for greater use cases, such as cloud and mobile applications.

 

 

The architecture behind triPOS Cloud and Mobile is particularly exciting because it enables EMV without the headache that cloud and mobile bring to the integration.  Before EMV came along, semi-integrated solutions were fairly easy to implement and maintain. Solutioning consisted of simple card readers, which could be used since mag-stripe is a unidirectional communication. By using keyboard emulation from the reader, such as Hosted Payments fields within a browser could be populated by the mag-stripe reader.  This only required the merchant to connect the mag-stripe reader, open their browser and they were off and running. Examples of these include browsers on PC based (Windows or Linux) solutions or applications on tablet based (iOS or Android). 

 

EMV readers on the other hand complicate things, as they require bidirectional communication to handle the negotiation with the actual EMV card.  This creates a significant hurdle for cloud developers to overcome and still maintain a very seamless merchant installation, as something has to handle the bidirectional nature of EMV.

 

Cloud and mobile developers are now looking for solutions that solve this problem but limit the amount of installation support, time, and technical knowledge required by the merchant to a minimum. A semi-integrated solution is a great way to solve these challenges, and is the path that many developers are choosing to implement. 

 

When selecting the right semi-integrated EMV payment solution, it’s important to consider the actual end merchant device/method desired. Cloud and mobile applications make software not just trendy, but incredibly useful.

 

For a true browser solution, a cloud-based application is needed; one that requires little to no installation on the merchant’s part. triPOS Cloud is a great fit, since all payment functionality actually resides in the cloud and is hosted by Vantiv Integrated Payments. The merchant only has to go through a simple two-step process to install the actual device and pair it to your cloud solution.

 

For a tablet-based (iOS or Android) POS some sort of native thin application is needed on the device to interface with the merchant.  In this case, triPOS Mobile is required so it can be linked and installed as part of the native application, keeping the merchant experience the same as it was previous to EMV. 

 

Finally, regardless of the form factor, developers need an easy integration that won’t overburden a majority of their time and resources.  triPOS PC (Windows and Linux distributed software), derived from our existing product line, allows developers to avoid having to integrate to EMV PIN pads, code each individual payment type, build customized reporting tools and more. Instead, it is all managed by triPOS and our Express Interface. Plus, triPOS Cloud and Mobile enable instant upgrades, so your POS stays on top of the new technologies and security requirements you'll need to implement over the next few years.

At Vantiv, we have the opportunity to be introduced to exciting events, devices, and technologies in fintech quite often. One of the devices worth exploring and writing about is the new Verifone Carbon which we are excited to present here today. This device is truly transforming the point of sale into the point of relationship.

 

Take a peek at how beautiful this device is here:

 

 

Notice the mobility of the device facilitated by two screens? One screen is the terminal side, the other is the "POS" side. You can use it on a countertop or literally pick it up, walk around, and take a payment wherever you want.

 

The standard credit card terminal has always been notoriously difficult to innovate on. But since the terminal side has its own certified payments application, the Carbon Commerce Platform eases this process for developers.  With the payment piece abstracted away from the developer, it’s easy to develop innovative and relevant applications on the terminal side without the need for recertification. This platform allows development using standard web based tools: HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript and a series of non-payment interaction triggers. These triggers enable the commerce application to take actions as the payment flow occurs.

 

With this level of simplicity, we’re talking about enhancements like easy loyalty, innovative concierge programs and instant customer feedback. Add in the mobility aspect of Carbon, and the possibilities really come to life.

 

Another great thing Verifone has done with this device is to create a simulator for the commerce application side as well. This allows you to fire up the Carbon SDK in Android studio, write your application, communicate with third party services, interact with your Android tablet application and perhaps just change the world.

 

Here are some screenshots of the terminal simulator out of Android Studio:

 

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The tablet side of Carbon allows all Android fans and developers to unite. You have the full power of Android studio and JDK at your fingertips. The Verifone SDK is integrated directly with Android studio and gives you an amazing set of tools to build interoperations between the tablet/POS with the terminal commerce side.

 

The tablet side of the Carbon has access to the described triggers as well, again allowing it to interact with the payment flow and the developer’s commerce application. In case you missed it, the innovation potential is high here.

Here is the media announcement, Android fans unite!

 

To get more information about developing on the Carbon, or if you want to explore the documentation and download the sdk visit our Money 2020 Hackathon site here.

 

Stay tuned for a short tutorial on how the Carbon SDK is used soon.

dourada

Hacking Hackathons

Posted by dourada Oct 17, 2016

We always enjoy the buildup to the Money2020 hackathon.  As you prepare to travel to Las Vegas this next week we thought we would share some advice on how to have your best experience ever.  Please feel free to add your comments/feedback!  See you soon and happy hacking!

 

What to do before the hackathon

 

  1. Have goals established before you arrive at the hackathon.  Your goals might trump any of the info we provide below so consider what you want out of the hackathon and then go get it!  If your goal is to meet new people at the event maybe you do not care so much about brainstorming ideas before arrival or forming a team prior to arrival.  But if you intend on going for the win try to prepare as much as you can before you arrive.  Maybe your top priority is winning, a second priority is learning a new skill, and a third priority is meeting new people.  Some of those goals might conflict but at least it gives you a base level of understanding and also helps you to evaluate yourself/your team after the event.
  2. Do not forget to have fun!
  3. Start brainstorming ideas early.  Specifically for the Money2020 hackathon read through the challenge statements a few times and get your team on the same page before you arrive.
  4. Form a team before you arrive.  If you need more people you can certainly find them when you arrive but if you already have a team and a plan in place you can get right to working on your product.
  5. Narrow down your list of "tools".  What programming language are you going to use?  Again these tools depend on your goals.  If you are trying to win then keeping with the tools that make you efficient is likely the best strategy but if your goal is to branch out and learn something new then obviously have that programming language or API in mind prior to arrival.
  6. What are your sleeping arrangements?  Will you sleep at all?  Or attempt to arrive Saturday morning, stay up all day/night, and leave Sunday evening?
  7. What are your fueling arrangements?  What are you going to eat and drink?  When?
  8. Have a plan for getting some fresh air and see something else in Las Vegas other than the hackathon ballroom.
  9. Do you have your travel scheduled and know where/when you are going?
  10. Specifically for the Vantiv challenge have you taken a look at the available APIs/SDKs?
  11. Do you know which hardware you would like to select?  Do you have a backup?
  12. Have you created your one minute video and posted to Vantiv O.N.E.?
  13. Read some of the blogs of the sponsoring companies you have selected, get to know what they do and who they are, it might come in handy.
  14. Seriously think about how you can change the world, it's possible, just get yourself into the right mindset.

 

What to do during the hackathon

 

  1. Talk to the sponsoring company reps, 24 hours is a great time get to know 3-4 of the teams.  Introduce yourself, tell them where you are sitting, and ask for help if/when you need it.
  2. Attend 1 or 2 sponsor breakout sessions.  This is a great time for a deep dive into the challenge you have selected, API specifics, and to ask the sponsors what they will be looking for during the two minute pitch.
  3. Integrate to at least 2 APIs and then make a decision later which one you will pitch.
  4. Start your presentation as early as possible.  Do not use a power point and try to memorize your 2 minute presentation.  Remember you only have 2 minutes to pitch so use it wisely.  Practice your pitch at least 10 times before giving it to the sponsoring company.  Leverage the sponsors for feedback early on, not just the sponsor you will be pitching to but all of them.  They are all there to help.
  5. Get some sleep at some point, always better to be a little on the rested side instead of a little on the fried side.
  6. Change clothes/brush teeth, makes you feel better and you'll pitch better.
  7. Do you have a plan for wifi backup/failure?
  8. Make sure to get your hardware if you are using it for the Vantiv challenge at 10am on Saturday.
  9. Have a backup to pitching with hardware.  Hardware is great but it's also difficult.  If your hardware breaks for whatever reason be able to pitch with a software only solution.
  10. Understand your solution does not need to be perfect.  Unless your biggest feature is database access skip all of the plumbing and hardcode data.  That said you still do need to pitch with a working prototype so you must have some code developed.
  11. Keep the goals of the hackathon in mind, keep reading how the judges are going to evaluate you (find that criteria on the Money2020 hackathon site).  The judges will obviously know when something is cool but they are also given guidelines on how to evaluate you.  Speak to those points.
  12. Walk around, get some fresh air, you are in Las Vegas.  At least checkout one fun thing while you're there.  You do not have to completely forget about the hackathon but take a walk and do some brainstorming while you are walking around.

 

What to do after the hackathon

 

  1. Write a blog post about your experience and share it via your sponsors social media channels.  It's good for you, it's good for them, it's good for the entire hackathon ecosystem.
  2. Connect with all of the people you met and form your network of fintech wizards.
  3. Claim your prize if you won and pay attention to the details.
  4. Evaluate how you/your team performed based on your goals established before the event.
  5. Give feedback to the organizers and challenge sponsors.  We love improvement and the best way to get that improvement is by direct feedback from the participants.  It also helps us demonstrate business value.  If you discover a bug in an API or can show how an API will be more efficient that is golden feedback!
  6. Keep changing the world with passion and fun!

As you may know, the Money 20/20 Hackathon is now the premier event for the best hackers representing financial services and commerce technology. In case you haven't heard, Vantiv has established itself firmly into the eye of the Money 20/20 Hackathon ecosystem. We are bringing along some of the most fun, innovative and challenging hardware sets to this years event. In order to equate the output we are asking you hackers to combine your PASSION with COMMERCE to change and solve one of the worlds largest challenges. Here is a sampling of the hardware pieces we have brought along to aid you in your quest. These devices are:

 

Let's take a look at a couple of these and see if we can't drum up some of the creative juices of your internal hacker.

 

  • Nao Robot
    • What can you do with a little 58cm tall, endearing humanoid? The thing I want to stress here is how life-like this robot is. It can bring out the empathetic aspect of robotics, that is, if robot empathy is a real thing; we are trending towards the singularity, are we not?  If you haven't read our overview on the robot you should, and remember that for the hackathon, you don't even need the robot to start coding a solution to change the world, you can do it right from the Choregraphe simulator. Just take a peak at the NAO documentation and I'm sure your interest will be piqued. The video below can help to get some ideas about the capability of this robot and how human like it is. Perhaps you could create a robot therapist that learns, make its patients happy, introspects on their emotional needs, all for a small recurring fee?

       

  • Cubelets
    • IoT hype got you down? Plugin with these easily programmable devices and create the next connected simulation universe. These Cubelets are programmable robot blocks and the amazing part about these is that you don't need to know about actuators, logic boards and photosensors to make a functional machine. All of these Cubelets connect with a magnetic base, and by connecting them you can create a larger robot or machine.

       

      Lets chat a little about what Cubelets exist and what you could do with them. A good starting Cubelet is the battery Cubelete, it provides power for your robot and even has a switch to turn the power on/off. Black Cubelets are known as sense Cubelets and they take input from things like light, distance and temperature. They then turn this "sense" into a number. The transparent Cubelets are called act Cubelets and they function as outputs. They can do things like light up, spin around or make audible cues. The colored Cubelets are like tiny I/O devices (or little brains) which can take in data and modify the output.

       

      The act Cubelets can use the number generated (as mentioned above) from the sense Cubelet to create or take an "action". These numbers are being sent through the "system" all the time and are what makes the larger robot/machine behave the way it does. As the numbers come in, the colored "think" Cubelets will modify the numbers from the other cubes giving a large variety of programmable actions you can take. You can explore some of the individualized functions of these Cubelets by browsing them here. Don't worry you won't need to purchase these, that is where we come in.

       

      What can you come up with to make Cubelets + Passion + Commerce = Your 20/20 Solution? The possibilities are endless. If you haven't read our Cubelets deep dive, please check it out here. Below is a little video for some Cubelets knowledge and inspiration:

 

Come take on our challenge statement as you battle it out for your $125k share of the pie. Dive into the vast set of hardware and software available to translate your passion for commerce into reality.

I've always loved the thought exercise associated with Carl Sagan's public lecture at Cornell University in 1994, "Pale Blue Dot". Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot - YouTube

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"We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam."

 

In his lecture, Carl Sagan masterfully captured the humbling scale of our universe and the small part we play. On a smaller scale, the idea of "me" is also unique in that the rare makeup of the atoms that comprise "me" exists now, in this single point in time. As part of this universal atomic soup, we all have unique attributes that make it extremely difficult to commit fraud with the universe and duplicate the "me" in a way that would be profitable to hackers. So with a bit of humor and applying Carl's words to payments and the idea of "me," consider this:

 

"We succeeded in making many purchases, and, if you look at it, you see a ‘me’ behind each one. That's me. That's who I am. In me, all of the things I've ever purchased, all of the food I've consumed to become me, all of the events that have poured together to randomly create me. The aggregate of all my purchases, thousands of Happy Meals, phones, reckless purchases, every vacation, every student loan, every bar tab that led to bad decisions, every gift, every purchase in the hope of happiness, every unexpected child expense, every mother and father dinner to escape the kids for a few hours, every skiing weekend to spend with long lost friends, every purchase of the next great thing that promises a little more comfort, every poorly written software that steals our identity, every coffee purchase to rocket through the day, every new fashion we have to have, every comment, ‘hey y'all watch this,’ that led to unplanned hospital bills, every investment and loss in the history of our investing, is part of ‘me’ – on a pale blue planet, sitting in a chair, typing on a computer in Denver, Colorado."

 

Now let's shift to payments and open a discussion about "me" and my identity. Over the next 20 years, do we decide to invent more complex authentication methodologies and processes or do we make "me" the best way to do business?

 

EMV is the current "big thing" to battle fraud for card present purchases. However, I wonder, why waste time with complex technology and capture methods when each of us has a very unique way to authenticate who we are? Why not leverage our bio-metric signatures as a complex validation for purchase? Why carry wallets with cards when we already have a device (phone) that can be used for validation of our unique cosmic atomic identity of "me"? Why bother with different industry types and capture methods such as retail, eCommerce, MOTO, card present and card not present, when everything could be blurred into one authentication layer that serves all?

 

Traditionally, our purchasing arsenal involves tender types (credit, debit, gift, ACH), capture methods, industry, MCC codes, etc. – each requiring the consumer to have the necessary card or routing/account number to utilize each one, and to protect the acquirer or issue based on a risk model and the people in each bucket's purchasing tendencies. What if we added an authentication layer of "me," that is so unique that by validation it would associate all different purchasing options? And since it's a phone validating "me," the concept of card present or card not present no longer applies?

 

Pros

  • The big question, in my opinion, is whether EMV or the bio-metrics of "me" is more secure? I think that the combination of a phone which has a unique chip-set, combined with retinal/facial/voice recognition and possibly a PIN would go a long way in competing with a EMV chip and PIN solution.
  • Today’s smartphones are more personal to people than wallets with plastic. If you were to be presented a choice between giving up your phone versus your wallet, which would you choose?
  • Use location to assess purchase and fraud. It would be nearly impossible for a purchase to be made in NYC, followed by another one in L.A. just 30 minutes later. We are, however, talking 20 years out so who knows? Teleporting may be viable then.
  • Person-to-person or person-to-merchant payments would be much easier. Imagine using your phone to authenticate someone you are paying– for example, a babysitter watching your kids, or a merchant selling art at a fair. The merchant would authenticate themselves with the phone to login and be tied to a merchant account they have with a merchant acquirer. They then would authenticate people purchasing their goods with the same phone and allow the customer to select the payment type.
  • "Me" health diagnostics, like the movie "Big hero 6," where Baymax has the ability to use bio-metrics to determine if the person has any health needs, thus leading to additional purchases.

 

Cons

  • Too much personal information collected.
  • The idea of, “stay out of my business.” Some consumers will find it creepy to be bombarded with other items or discounts while shopping at a store. I feel, however, that this is a generational issue and changing with each passing year.
  • What would a government do with this information? We need to consider how this would work on a global basis.
  • How would a system account for a person's atomic soup constantly changing?

 

Other possibilities

  • Loyalty programs
  • Purchasing insights
  • Coupons and discounts, particularly for millenials

 

There’s a lot to mull over and consider when using the concept of "me" related to payments. Is it possible to aggregate the technology, structures of industry, and forfeiture of personal freedoms for convenience?

 

Join Vantiv at the Money 20/20 Hackathon and put your Robot to work!

 

Gone are the days when Robots were massive and expensive beasts, purpose-built and affordable only to large manufacturers.  As technology, materials and software have evolved, the cost of Robots has plummeted. Today, they are everywhere we look including around the home.

 

Some do useful work (thank you iRobot Roomba), but others are basically toys, wasting their enormous potential, consuming electricity and taking up space.  After a while they’re like teenagers - talking back, sleeping-in past noon, and playing loud music (looking at you Amazon Echo). Before you know it, they’ll be raiding the fridge and even driving your car.

 

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The time has come for your Robots to get a job. Of course, a pre-requisite is that they need to be able to do something useful. This is where you come in!  Second, they need to be able to charge for their services, and this is where Vantiv comes in.

 

The Money 20/20 Hackathon

 

Vantiv values passion—not only for payments, but for technology, commerce and improving life.  Over the past two years, Vantiv has sponsored the Money20/20 Hackathon. Now on our third year, we are excited to work with great minded developers again.

 

You likely have bigger and bolder ideas than just putting robots to work, and to help trigger your creative talents, we’re bringing an awesome bundle of cool gadgets to Money 20/20.

 

  • Amazon Echo — simplify payments using your brainwaves to solve challenges rather than type commands.
  • Nao robot — robots will obviously be a useful tool in solving any grand challenge – if you can make them do something useful that is.
  • Sphero — what can you do to change the world with a simple, programmable, ball?
  • Cubelets — if spheres are not your cup of tea what about stackable, programmable blocks to conquer a difficult challenge?
  • Verifone Carbon - We are partnering with Verifone to offer a first look at their new Verifone Carbon product. Drive commerce and grow the global economy!

 

Not into Robots or hardware?  No problem. Pick any open API that you can mash with our eCommerce payments APIs to ultimately solve a grand challenge and create unique commerce experiences.

 

You can find useful resources and information about the Hackathon Challenge at the Vantiv O.N.E. (One Network Experience) developer portal.

 

https://developer.vantiv.com/community/hackathon

 

The world needs big thinkers like you. Become part of the Vantiv O.N.E. TechTribe and help make the world a better place one pluggable software module at a time!