24 hours to change how the world pays: tales from our hackathon

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Isabella Morris, Junior Brand Copywriter
1 Feb 2022

Every year, TrueLayeristas from across the company – from product and engineering to marketing and sales – come together to build something from nothing... in just 24 hours. 

The annual TrueLayer hackathon is a chance to meet new colleagues, get creative and test the limits of what’s possible. 

Our fifth hackathon, TrueHack 5, focused on changing the way the world pays with open banking. Teams took to the stage to present their projects and winners were decided by majority vote, with prizes for ‘Most useful’, ‘Best tech’, ‘Best demo’ and ‘Most fun’. 

In this blog, 7 TrueLayeristas reveal their hacks and highlights.

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TrueLayerista: Kevin Plattret, Engineering Lead
Team name: H.A.C.kers
Hack: Humanity Against Cards

In the weeks that led up to the Hackathon, I could sense the anticipation building. Our team’s mission was to improve the open banking payments experience in the browser.

Each team had to include at least one non-technical TrueLayerista and a new joiner — our new joiner turned out to be a key contributor. We were lucky to have him.

The energy and ideas coming from all of the teams were incredible. Our team built a prototype to improve the checkout experience. We might be remembered as the most boring studious team, since we isolated ourselves on a quiet floor and devoted our time to the task until the early hours of the morning. 

Hackathons are always interesting events — you get to the final presentations and everyone is tired. You see some brilliant hacks, some you would never have thought of and some questionable ones. But it's just brilliant to see everyone coming together, innovating and having fun.

Our team won the top prize and that means only one thing to me: a good idea is a great start, but good execution always wins.

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Kevin Plattret, Engineering manager

TrueLayerista: Isabella Morris, Copywriter
Team: TruthLayer
Hack: The 'TruthLayer' money management tool

I hopped on a team last minute — as close to literally last minute as it gets. The whole ‘unprecedented times’ thing (and resulting ‘partly remote’ thing) meant that we knew the event would be a bit unusual, but we muddled through it. 

We developed TruthLayer. A tool which uses your transaction history to help you manage your money, lets you make payments, and swears at you if you don’t stick to your budget. Like, a lot. 

From the go, we started drawing up a UX flow. Then we created personas of varying ‘roast levels’ and furiously drafted content, while building a Figma prototype for all of that content to go in. Meanwhile the engineers diagrammed out how the tech would work, which was completely Greek to me but looked very impressive. 

We stayed in the office for hours and hours, fuelled by coffee and free pizza bigger than our heads. And yes, some brave people did pull all-nighters (not us though). The vibes were somewhere between “intense brainstorming meeting” and “sleepover”. 

At the end of the hack, we were tired but excited to see what everyone came up with — which, for every single team, was a really cool thing. Plus, the 'best demo' prize on offer meant that the presentations were incredible. In the end we didn’t win anything, but our own pitch was pretty incredible too… if we do say so ourselves. 

More than 120 TrueLayeristas took part in our fifth annual hackathon, TrueHack 5

TrueLayerista: Jingrui Fang, Partnerships Manager
Team: TrueCash
Hack: TrueCash ATM

Our team’s goal was clear: to create the funniest hackathon project the company had ever seen. And we made it happen. 

​​Our idea was born on the simple premise that our enemy’s enemy is our friend. So we turned open banking payments into cold, hard cash transactions. It was genius.

We worked until the early hours to come up with a usable demo and a handmade TrueCash ATM. It was so much fun working out a storyline and a script around how we can make physical cash more secure, convenient… and edible. 

The final presentation was thrilling. Commercial operations manager Pietro and I appeared as ‘consultants’ for the business. Copywriter Philip made such a good narrator – as professional as a BBC anchor! My colleagues Luca and Fede, wearing fur coats, sunglasses and gold chains, demonstrated how TrueCash could enable more questionable transactions.

When our ATM started showering out TrueCash, the audience was laughing and cheering for us wholeheartedly. I had so much fun: this hackathon reminded me that great teamwork makes things more fun, and we should always make time to have a good time. 

TrueLayerista: Olga Zapata, Product Marketing Lead
Team name: H.A.C.kers
Hack: Humanity Against Cards

To make the event as inclusive as possible, every team had to include at least one non-technical person — I was that person. 

Our objective as a team was to build something in 24 hours that would have a real impact for the business and could turn into a real project after the hackathon — and have fun at the same time. 

At first, I was a bit skeptical about how I was going to be able to help. But from the outset, the team took the time to run through all of the technical parts of the project with me. 

We were able to craft the perfect pitch — simplifying complexity and delivering it in a way that was entertaining for the audience. To make the presentation more memorable, we took a trip to a fancy dress shop to get some Grim Reaper costumes to really embody the theme of the Hackathon.

We ended up winning the first prize of the competition and now we have an incredible seven-day trip to the Caribbean to plan in 2022!

TrueLayerista: Peter Haggett, Senior Product Manager
Team name: A Bunch of Hacks
Hack: TrueControl user consent tool 

We gathered together a motley crew of those experienced in product development and those new to the game, bringing a wide array of experiences and skill sets.

Put simply, we were all set to bodge something vaguely workable together in the course of 24 coffee-fuelled hours. We christened ourselves ‘A Bunch of Hacks’, embracing any opportunity for a pun. 

When it came to the presentation, we excitedly got on stage and presented a (mostly) functioning method for open banking users to control access to their own data. Something applicable to anything from passports through to Club Penguin account information. It was beautiful, a moment of inspiration and the future of our sector.

Or so we thought. The competition was intense and the creativity from across the company brought us firmly back to the reality of losing a popular vote — but to deserving victors. 

Hands were shaken, backs were patted and glasses were raised. Ultimately, camaraderie and mutual respect won the day, as we all marvelled at the ideas other teams had manifested into live demos. 

The most common phrase of the day: "I wish I’d thought of that!"

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Peter Haggett, Senior Product Manager

TrueLayerista: Jake Roberts, Bid Manager
Team name: OneTrueClick
Hack: Frictionless payments

Three words to sum up the Hackathon? Fast, exciting and pizza (lots of it...) 

For a newbie like myself, it was a great opportunity to meet people across a range of teams and departments. I particularly enjoyed working with the engineers and UI/UX designers, who were more than willing to share their knowledge and ways of working. Watching them and contributing to building a new product from scratch in just 24 hours was amazing.

It was a challenge and learning experience. Most of all, it fostered a sense of teamwork, collaboration and fun. 

Our goal was to reduce fraud, chargebacks and high fees which merchants commonly suffer from when using more traditional payment methods. For the consumer, the product was designed to reduce friction, simplifying and enhancing their payment experience. 

After seeing the prizes awarded for this year's event, I can't wait for the 2022 edition!

TrueLayerista: Alexandru Lighezan, Senior Software Engineer
Team name: H.A.C.kers
Hack: Humanity Against Cards

When I first heard about the Hackathon, I’d been with TrueLayer for less than a month and had no prior experience in open banking. I gave it a shot anyway and ended up being part of the team that won the top prize — what an experience! 

I have to admit I was a bit stressed about working alongside experienced TrueLayeristas, but everyone was friendly and supportive and we succeeded in building a great UX in less than 24 hours.

It was an amazing way to meet passionate people and experiment with new tech. In the end I was blown away by the results, with amazing proofs of concept, great presentations and just all-around high quality output from all of the participating teams.

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