Arion Bank’s FinTech Party – Hackathon

Arion Bank is the first bank in Iceland to host a hackathon. Arion Bank’s FinTech Party is the first hackathon where hackers from  established IT companies, the startup community or universities can work on several APIs to hack and develop new financial services.


While hosting a hackathon is no news in itself, the Arion’s FinTech Party is the country’s first financial services hackathon and several APIs will be available (see below) to participants , who can hack away for 30 hours on June 3-4 2016 in Arion Bank headquarters.

Arion Bank’s HQ in Reykjavik, Iceland (see on map)

The Icelandic banking infrastructure is unique

Now this statement may sound awkward in light of a total collapse of the Icelandic banking system in 2008, yet what I mean is from a standpoint of something else. Most banks globally today are highly focused on payments, trying to improve speed where individuals and companies transfer money. Money transfer may take up to three banking days between banks even within the same country or city. The US still heavily relies on checks for money exchange. In Iceland it happens instantly and has done so for almost 20 years. If I transfer money to my wife who has an account at a different Icelandic bank than I do, she only has to push F5 on her keyboard immediately after I make the transfer, and the transfer amount is visible on her bank account. How is that possible? Well, it’s rather simple. There is a common core banking platform for all the Icelandic banks (jointly owned by the commercial banks). Makes sense, right?

Good infrastructure may have slowed innovation down

For the above mentioned reason, Icelanders have had little need to improve payments. Only in the past year has Iceland seen new money transfer products like Aur and Kass, where you only need a mobile number and registered debet or credit card within the app to transfer money between individuals, regardless of who your commercial bank is. It’s like Danske Bank’s Mobilepay. POS solutions are the next logical step for these apps competing with Pei and Netgíró, and of course with the more traditional payment providers like Valitor and Borgun.

My point is that until now, there has been relatively little urgency in developing either great consumer or business financial applications.

Arion’s FinTech Party offers several APIs

We at Arion Bank have been working a great deal with with Icelandic startup ecosystem since 2012 since the bank owns two business accelerators, Startup Reykjavik and Startup Energy Reykjavik, where the bank invests seed money in exchange for an ownership stake. Understanding how startups approach problem solving, along with international digitalisation trend/changes in banking, has lead us to hosting the hackathon. We have also offered several companies to offer their financial APIs in our hackathon. They are:

  • API Arion Bank
    • Transactions on debet and credit cards – Participants log on with their eID and get access to all their personal transactions
    • Claims – initiate a claim to a unique personal ID number that shows in that person’s / company’s internet bank
    • National registry – Lookup in the national registry by their unique ID number
  • API Valitor
    • Payments – Send and receive a payment with a card
  • API Borgun
    • Payments – Send and receive a payment with a card
  • API Meniga
    • Datadump on the fast food industry. All transactions over a 12 month period in Meniga’s database related to the Icelandic fast food industry. Data is non-personalized.
  • API RB
    • Mobile banking
  • API Kodi
    • Market Data – closing day price of listed equities on the Icelandic Nasdaq OMX
  • API Advania
    • eSignature

We are quite enthusiastic about these different APIs, since a combination of them gives the hackers vast opportunities in developing great products. Real products or features for real customers, consumer or business.

Let’s hope it leads to growth hacking post hackathon!


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