As businesses seek faster and more efficient ways of handling financial advisory, virtual banking, virtual insurance and payment system transactions, new-age FinTech technologies are opening up a wealth of career opportunities across different job functions.
In the midst of a technological revolution where new technologies are continuously re-defining business models, one of the quickest ways to explore cutting-edge tech ideas, as well as solve real-world business challenges, is through hackathons. Against the backdrop of Hong Kong's expanding FinTech landscape, scheduled to take place 7-9 February, the FINSPIRE Hackathon will challenge participants to ideate, design, build and present their FinTech-inspired innovations. Co-organised by financial advisory services firm Convoy and Hong Kong Cyberport with Microsoft Hong Kong providing technical support and training, working in teams of three to five, local and overseas students studying at Hong Kong universities will have 48-hours to solve challenges and pain-points in one or more of three categories. Fintech for Business; focusing on commercial-centric projects that transform security and operation efficiency; Fintech for Good, focusing on purpose-driven projects that address social and environmental needs and Fintech for You, youth-centric projects that empower smart, fun and secure lifestyles. Hackathon judges will be looking for excellence in four key areas, innovation and creativity; design and execution; business and social impact and collaboration and presentation.
Almond Wong, group chief people and cultural officer at Convoy Global Holdings says the FINSPIRE Hackathon will provide a platform designed to encourage participants to create something new, or solve a problem in a unique and inventive way. “We look forward to seeing new ideas, new ways of thinking and new initiatives being created,” says Wong who notes that students tend not to be restricted by industry legacy, which widens the parameters of their creativity. Beyond the mantra of “code, eat, sleep, repeat”, internationally, hackathons have proved to be a fertile breeding ground for a number of successful business applications. For example, the Facebook “like” button, Twitter and Carousell, the app that streamlines the process of selling household goods and unwanted belongings, were each conceived at hackathon events.
In addition to winning HK$100,000 in cash and prizes, which includes a visit to a FinTech company in the UK, entrepreneurship training by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) HK and 12 weeks of exclusive mentorship programme training, Wong says the benefits of taking part in a hackathon goes beyond the event. For instance, hackathon participants can meet and collaborate with like-minded individuals and learn from mentors and representatives from support organisations, who can become part of a valuable network. In addition to the sense of accomplishment, the FINSPIRE Hackathon will be a prime opportunity for participants to put problem-solving skills and teamwork abilities into practice. Participants will also have a hands-on opportunity to leverage Microsoft's Application Programming Interface (API) platform and artificial intelligence technology capabilities to analyse data insights to support innovative ideas. Furthermore, Wong says concepts and applications developed at the hackathon that align with Convoy's business initiatives, could be considered for further development. Wong explains as Convoy continues to expand its financial advisory business into the digital world, which includes transformational opportunities that FinTech offers, the company is keen to highlight how it is creating new roles and opportunities for young people who may not have previously considered a career in the finance sector. “As a Hong Kong, home-grown company we believe it is important to create opportunities for the next generation,” says Wong.
Meanwhile, Maria Hui, Microsoft Hong Kong, director marketing and operations believes the FINSPIRE Hackathon will provide participants with the opportunity to explore the way that FinTech is increasingly playing a role in the way individuals spend, manage, save, and invest their money. “Hackers will be able to use Microsoft's tools to visualise and put their ideas into action,” says Hui. “Participants will be able to appreciate it's not just what technology can do, but what people can do with technology,” she adds. Good examples include Microsoft technologies that help users to strengthen security and compliance processes — high-priority factors in the finance sector — and optical character recognition (OCR) to facility the agile approval of loans. Also, chatbot technology used in call centres that enables Cantonese speech conversion to text. Hui explains, from the speech conversion analytics it is possible to establish if the caller is satisfied with the services being offered, which plays a fundamental part in establishing customer service strategies. As such, Hui says, in the same way that previous industrial revolutions required changes between humans and machines relationships, the digital era demands a new set of skills for people to succeed. “It has always been a clear objective for Microsoft to support the business and technology needs of the Hong Kong community,” Hui says as new technologies and digital innovation disrupt reshape business processes, culture and customer experiences, Microsoft is helping individuals, business leaders and organisations with the critical technology skills and knowledge to succeed in the 4th Industrial Revolution.