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Westpac and IBM develop solutions to improve payment systems for customers in an innovative way


25 August 2015

Westpac Banking Corporation, in partnership with IBM, held the first Hackathon at its world-leading innovation centre, "the hive" last week.

The two day event brought together employees from across Westpac's business and technology areas, and IBM industry, development and design experts, to work in small teams in a rapid innovation environment. The challenge was to develop 16 innovative and disruptive solutions for eight real-world customer payment challenges.

Solutions included: a smart card scanner to collate financial management data, a bill splitter application to make cost sharing simple for millennials and a real time account balance program to streamline daily payments.

General Manager, Technology Strategy and Architecture, Robert Wilson said "The Hackathon environment creates a fun and engaging way for our business and technology people to experiment with working in new and different ways to solve customer challenges. This event is not simply about driving innovation, it's about fostering a valuable new channel for influencing our group business & IT strategy, in an environment of accelerated disruption & change."

At the conclusion of the event, teams presented their final concepts to a panel of Westpac and IBM judges. The winning idea was a prototype of a financial management portal developed to help for a large and complex customer and their clients.

The solution was a streamlined service which automated processes, eliminated paperwork and provided case managers more time with their clients.

General Manager, Global Transactional Services, Rachel Slade said: "Our first Payments Hackathon has given our people an opportunity to develop real solutions for customers, building a culture of innovation and rapid development in our business, with a clear focus on transforming the customer experience."

IBM's Managing Director for Westpac, Sonia Basser said: "The Westpac and IBM partnership leverages IBM's global thought leadership and capabilities to foster new ideas. This includes jointly developing industry leading solutions for Westpac's customers. With the increase in digital disruption in banking, building and deploying customer-centric applications rapidly and securely via digital channels is essential".

About Westpac

Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) was founded in 1817 and was the first bank established in Australia. Today, the Westpac Group has branches and controlled entities throughout Australia, New Zealand and the near Pacific region and maintains offices in key financial centres around the world including London, New York, Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore, India and Indonesia. Westpac Group employs approximately 36,000 people and has three key customer facing divisions through which we serve around 12 million customers.

About the Hackathon

Having run hackathons with NASA and Citibank, Westpac partnered with IBM to facilitate the Payments Hackathon. IBM experts were on hand to provide technical advice and support to the teams, and in the lead up to the Hackathon, Westpac and IBM worked together to run business and technical coaching sessions and developed a number of APIs and data sets to simulate different back-ends that could be used by the participants for the development of their innovations.