APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) enable applications and websites to speak each other’s language and trade information. You use them when you sign in to a website with your Facebook or Twitter account, and soon you’ll be able to use them to ask your Alexa or Google Home what your Starling account balance is.
At Starling, we believe the customer’s data is their own, and that transparency and choice among financial products is key to helping them to lead healthy financial lives. We’ve opened our APIs and built a PSD2-ready open banking platform that’s purpose built to give the power back to the customer; this launched last week.
To celebrate, we held our first ever Hackathon.
We invited over 100 people to join us at Campus London to spend the weekend building tools and services on top of the Starling API.
We were blown away by the energy and investment of the teams, and by the apps and tools they built. Here’s a taste of what was created over the weekend:
The Reloyalty team from Bulgaria flew in to join the Starling Hackathon, and created a loyalty system on top of payments. The goal was twofold: to provide Starling users with personalised loyalty offers; and to enable small businesses to monitor the effectiveness of these offers.
Cinnamon created a chatbot, accessible via Facebook Messenger. This team used a machine learning bot and natural language processing framework called Wit AI and built a Node JS app that was hosted on Heroku and linked to a Facebook page created for the bot. Following this process allowed them to match user queries to intents, which they could then use to write functions that returned the relevant information. By the end of the weekend, the bot was able to greet the user, return the current account balance, and return the amount of money spent on a given day or timeframe.
The 0100 Musketeers
The 0100 Musketeers used the Starling React SDK to build an automated savings app — a tool to automatically allocate funds to your savings account based on customisable rules, and track your progress towards savings goals.
Alt-U explored building tools that could help people to be more charitable with their money. They looked at three aspects for their hack:
- Expense round-up: any purchase made through the Starling card will initiate a charity donation of the remaining pennies required to round the amount up to the nearest pound.
- Chrome extension: Blocks websites after a predefined time is wasted on them each day. It allows users to “buy more time” once their time runs out; if they choose to extend, it’ll charge the Starling account £1 in exchange for another 10 minutes of browsing time. Once approved, the page is unblocked and the user can keep browsing.
- Bad habit tax: When purchasing items in a “bad habit” category, such as buying drinks in a bar, or spending on gambling, a “bad habit tax” is applied — 10% of the purchase cost.
An aggregator that combines bank account data and updates in real-time. In addition, it offers automated expense approval and transaction analytics to identify areas where money can be saved.
Tail’s tool enables Starling account holders to be able to get cashback on spending through merchant loyalty. Tail integrates with the Starling app to provide users with exclusive offers, so that they can shop with Tail partners and get cashback directly into their Starling Bank account.
Specto Labs created a spending accountability service that integrates with Slack, Twitter, and Amazon Alexa. Their main priority was to explore an open banking/PSD2 compliant API using a variety of different programming languages, and make sure that the API simulation and testing tooling would work well with this. As a result, they built a tool that tracks (predefined) “bad spending” and can notify other services if you’ve been a bit cheeky with your spending.
The idea behind Chirp was to try to make banking use open third-party services — such as Facebook Messenger and Alexa — trustworthy beyond a simple naive implementation. The team built an authentication system using a helper app and TouchID to create manage-restricted user sessions while using the Starling service through Facebook Messenger.
And the winner is...MABLE Forge!
This team met and formed on the first night of the hackathon, and spent the weekend working on a concept of how people under care and their family carers could manage financial affairs in a safe, stress-free, and robust manner. As a result, they built a tool that monitors and adapts to the emotional and cognitive needs of its users which would otherwise suffer from excessive financial risk, complexity, and resultant stress.