Fintech Cup 2017 is organized by Fintech Lab – a business accelerator for startups in the field of financial technologies and the Eva Group. The competition is intended for students, postgraduates and recent alumni who are interested in working in the fields of payment technologies, internet of things, business analytics and programming.

The competition consists of three stages. The first stage starts on June 24 and ends on June 30. The second is July 1 to 7 and, finally, the third stage will be held on July 15 in Moscow. Teams from all over Russia can take part – the first two stages are held online. Teams that are unable to attend the final stage in Moscow can also participate remotely.

Teams are made up of two to five members. An application can be sent in by teams or by individuals. In the latter case, one only needs to fill in a team captain’s form and the event organizers will find teammates for them.

What kind of tasks will the teams face?

The teams will compete in two categories of choice: business analytics (development and market integration of a new product concept) and financial technology software programming (creation of mobile apps: messengers, chat-bots, speech recognition services). The teams will be offered a total of four cases from the competition partners – QIWI, VTB24 and Otkritie Bank.

Throughout the completion of their tasks, the participants will be offered consultation from mentors and industry experts, who will share their best practices with the teams during off- and on-line workshops. After a case is solved, experts will provide feedback on the solutions and give tips and advice to the teams that made it to the next stage. Nadia Cherkasova, Head of Customer Service for Small Businesses at VTB24, Olga Turzhanskaya, Head of QIWI Venture and Alexey Blagirev, Head of Innovations at Otkritie Bank will be among those developing the tasks for the competition and evaluating the teams’ solutions.

For example, Otkritie Bank’s case includes a task for the development of an assistant program that would translate voice requests into text and send them to the bank using the bank’s mobile app or a chat-bot. As Alexey Blagirev explains, this task gives the participants a chance to work on a product outside of the “traditional” range (cards, loans, etc.).

“Since the championship’s purpose is to encourage the creation of novel approaches and ideas, we think that this is the topic with most room for innovation” – he says – “the “assistant” we describe in our case is an unprecedented app; there is no similar solution on the market – it could be a valuable addition to the bank’s services. We’re ready to develop pilot versions of the best solutions in various regions and among select clients; if they succeed, we’ll add the “assistant” to our tool portfolio”

What are the advantages of taking part?

The teams that make it into the final stage will have an opportunity to mingle with senior executives of the industry’s biggest companies (besides the teams’ final presentations, the July 15 event will also feature educational workshops). The winners of Fintech Cup 2017, in cooperation with the experts, will test their solution in real-life conditions with the partner companies’ customer base. From July 17 to July 27, the winning teams will develop and improve their solutions with help from EVA Academy, Fintech Lab and the partner companies. In addition, the best teams will be offered internships and a copy of each member’s CV will be sent to the partner companies’ HR departments.

“The format of a case competition gives an opportunity to demonstrate their potential to those, who, as of now, lack practical experience. I agree with the opinion that the entrepreneurial development model of the fintech field will serve as a driver of the digital economy. This is why it’s important to develop a platform where young people can be seen and heard by large players on the market and receive feedback,” – says Alexey Blagirev, Director of Innovations at Otkritie Bank – “The partner companies expect to see many promising young talents at the competition and are hoping to see the brightest ones join them”

The winners will also be able to attend the Youth Day of Fintech at Russia’s biggest fintech event – Formula Finopolis-2017 (Sochi, October 4), which will feature key market players, among them the members of “FinTech” Association and representatives of Central Bank of Russia.

Maria Sigova (center)

ITMO University’s Institute of Cyber Technologies for Financial Systems (ITMO.Fintech) is also a partner of Fintech Cup 2017. In the new academic year, two new Master’s Degree programs will open there: “Mathematical Support and Software for Global Financial Systems” and “Big Data in Financial Technologies”. As Maria Sigova, head of the Institute, notes, such competitions are an indication of growing interest from the banks and other players on the financial market towards young specialists with a wide range of skills in the fintech field, as well as the relevance of such educational programs.

“Even today employers don’t just want to hire great programmers – they want to see employees with an understanding of the financial market and financial technologies; they compete for access to human resources with such competencies. This explains why companies are eager to partner with the university on the development of Master’s Degree programs and their considerable involvement in the drawing up of curriculum, R&D platform development and practice learning. For students, this entails working on real projects and research of our partners in the industry – starting from their first year, meaning that the education they receive is highly relevant and useful in business,” – says Maria Sigova.

Graduates of the Master’s program can apply their knowledge in: the IT industry (Big Data analysis, computer simulation); investment funds; banks, systems integrators; hedge funds; trading and logistics companies. As Ms. Sigova adds, they will acquire skills and practices that can also serve as basic tools for starting their own businesses: such as, for example, fintech startups.