30 October 2015 – A team of five NUS students won one of the top five prizes of US$20,000, as well as the top Blockchain sponsored prize of US$5,000 in Bitcoin, at the 2015 Money 20/20 Hackathon, in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, in late October.
Supported by 10 of Fintech’s ‘most influential brands’, the hackathon had close to 600 contestants from 15 different countries, competing over 24 hours, building innovative solutions for the Payments and Financial Services sector.
The team members comprised of Computer Science students Yap Jun Hao (Year 3), Benjamin Lim Yi Ming (Year 3), and Lin Xuanyi (Year 4; double degree with Physics), third year Information Systems student Lee Cheryl (double degree with Accounting), and fourth year Business Administration student Cheung Ho Yeung. Jun Hao, Benjamin, Cheryl and Ho Yeung are currently in the NUS Overseas College Silicon Valley programme, and Xuanyi is currently doing an internship with Google.
Together, they worked on the Blockchain Challenge, which tasked the contestants to develop solutions to help new users use Bitcoin and create new ways of using Bitcoin, and produced Sashi. Speaking on behalf of the team, Jun Hao describes what they built:
Within United States, 86% of adults wish they had more financial literacy when they go into adulthood and a huge proportion of young adults live day to day with over $2000 in credit card debt. What if we could educate the next generation of adults in financial literacy and empower parents to help do the same?
Leveraging on Blockchain’s APIs, Sashi is a child-friendly mobile bitcoin wallet designed to cultivate good saving habits in children, overhaul online purchases for children (who are prone to scams) and drive Bitcoin adoption for the next generation of adults.
In Sashi, children only interact with Sashi (a cute coin) – the BitCoin volatility is abstracted. Sashi Guru, a character in the app, serves as a financial advisor for children in their journey of financial literacy, guiding and encouraging children to save more, spend less and to donate to good causes. A child with Sashi starts as a Sashi Baby and can eventually level up and one day become a Sashi Guru themselves if they keep up their good financial habits.
With Sashi, parents can monitor their children’s spending habits, set spending limits, allow their children to only transact with specific vendors/merchants (only possible with decentralized currencies such as Bitcoins), track their savings targets and even reward them by approving occasional lift of spending limits if their children can show good financial habits.
Despite the ‘tech’ half of the team missing up to six hours of the hackathon due to missed flights, the entire team not knowing much about Blockchain technology, having to learn about it and Bitcoin limitations, build their app idea, and pitch it to the judges, all in less than 24 hours, to their surprise, they prevailed and won not only the Blockchain Sponsor Challenge, but were also named one of the top five overall entries.
The team believes that their work stood out because they tried to solve the ‘new user adoption’ problem that the Bitcoin industry is facing and designed a solution that capitalised on the intrinsic property of decentralised currencies like Bitcoin, that wallets can be whitelisted or blacklisted – i.e. they built mobile wallets for kids that parents can monitor and control. “Our sponsor, Blockchain and their team at the hackathon played a significant role in this achievement by giving us constant feedback about our application in progress, our mock ups and our idea. Without their feedback, encouragement and constructive criticisms, we would never have gone so far!” said Jun Hao.
Videos demos of Sashi:
- Allocation of coins
- Expense & savings
- Parents dashboard