What do you get when you put together a team of colleagues passionate about mobile, our users, and the digital industry? A winning hackathon team, that’s what!

The hackathon
In December 2014, the National Australia Bank (NAB) held an innovation weekend (iDay), whereby companies were invited to join a two day hackathon. NAB held the hackathon with the aim of gaining innovative ideas to service their health and agribusiness industries, both for their clients and internal NAB industry staff.

Prior to the hackathon, we were told only of the industries that we could develop the product for, and an initial API briefing (but without access to the API itself). We did some research prior to the event, including looking at the two industries, NAB’s involvement, and the more or less NAB campaign, which featured as a criteria selection point for the solution. Being a mobile design and development company, we knew that we were going to design and build an app; and with the development team that we assembled, we knew it was going to be an iOS app.

We researched in the industries the apps available in the App Store, apps that had received awards, that were known for their innovation and interesting functionality. We decided to focus on the agribusiness industry, due to the ability to help in the digitisation of this industry, and bringing remote farmers and their NAB Business Managers closer together through technology.


(Photo: The team at Outware the day after the hackathon. L-R: Kelly Jennings, Michael Loo, Hadi Badjian, Jinju Jang.)

The team
We pulled together a team from Outware that was cross-discipline, enabling us to utilise different skills to create a well thought-out, designed and developed app. Our team was made up of:

Hadi Badjian: Software Developer
Jinju Jang: Visual Designer
Kelly Jennings: Interaction Designer
Michael Loo: Software Developer

Half-way through the first day, we came up with a team name which was a combination of functionality of the app, the industry we chose to work on in the hackathon, and the product we were creating. With a combination of data mining (functionality), crops and agriculture (industry) and software (product) we came up with Minecroft!


We had fun creating our splash screen of the app!

Day One – Research and idea formation

We spent the morning of the first day doing a fair bit of research, looking into real customer insights that had been collected for the hackathon, looking at industry reports, and talking to the Agribusiness NAB employees about their insights. We started seeing a pattern in terms of pain points experienced by both clients and internal staff, and what was on the wishlist for what could make doing business between these parties easier.

Our idea revolved around data visualisation and forecasting results in order to help share knowledge and provide farmers with more information when making financial decisions.

Our idea was to overlay personal (farmer’s) data over industry benchmarking data, in a visually appealing way. We also included functionality to help with forecasting, based on previous expenses and income data from a farmer, and forecasted market prices and rainfall. From this, the farmers could determine farm inefficiencies and calculate production amounts required for the coming year to achieve their financial targets and pay off their NAB loan and/or apply for a loan. This was about giving the farmer access to more knowledge to assist them in making big financial decisions.

Setting up the environment, going through the API, and workshopping the screens
Due to time constraints, we developed an app for iPhone (iPad would have been great, but would have been a longer development time). Whilst the development environment was being set up, we were given access to the NAB API. This access came at midday, which was when we could determine the data that we could surface and play with. We were really able to start exploring what we could get the app to do, and how it might look for our users. We workshopped the screens and functionality, before separating off to work on the dev environment, wireframes and user interface.

In true hackathon style, we pulled apart our idea at 6pm, and went over all of the information that we had collected earlier. Something wasn’t quite right, and we worked on refining one of the screens until we were really happy with it and knew that our idea was at a pretty good state. We then finished up the night before midnight and made sure we were rested for the next day.

Day Two – user interface design, functionality, and presenting
The second day was spent on designing the user interface and developing the functionality, whereby we were able to draw from seven of the NAB APIs to bring the data alive in our app. We also worked on our final pitch, ensuring that the solution met all of the criteria outlined at the start of the hackathon, and addressing how we met all of the points. It was a crazy busy morning and early afternoon, before we had to put our tools down at 2pm.


(Photo: We presented our app via a simulator to show how it worked and looked, while talking through how the app worked and met the hackathon criteria.)

From 2pm, all of the 15 teams pitched their ideas in four minute timeslots to not only the judges, but all of the competing teams as well. It was great seeing all of the ideas that the others had worked on, and the potential for how the NAB API could be used to better serve their customers as well as being used internally with their staff.


(Photo: A big novelty cheque is always fun! We were presented our cheque from NAB and Intel, one of the event’s sponsors.)

The result
I’m excited to say that our research and co-design sessions really paid off – we took home the top prize of $10,000 for the agribusiness sector! The judges told us that we really listened to the pain points and what the industry could benefit from, and our use of the APIs in creating our solution. Hackathons aren’t just about showing off your capabilities – they are about listening to the problem, and working out how it could be solved using an innovative solution. They also aren’t just for developers – a real mixture of skills is needed to be able to pull together a well-rounded solution! It was a really well-run event and we all had a great time meeting all of the hackers and support staff – bring on the next one!


Credit where credit is due

Icons from The Noun Project
Corn by Matt Brooks
Flower by Danilo Gusmăo Silveira
Cow by Anuar Zhumaev

Photos of us presenting and being presented the cheque: Bradley Clayton

Twitter: You can check out the fun and hype on Twitter using @NAB #nabapi #iDay #hackathon #nabiday

Mobile is not an option for banking and finance, it’s a necessity

This is an exciting time for the banking and finance sector. The announcement of Apple Pay and the growth of wearables demonstrate how developments in mobile technology are opening up a myriad of opportunities for financial services businesses to redefine how consumers interact with banking and financial services. The organisations which lead the industry and deliver valuable and effective mobile innovation will develop a competitive advantage difficult to rival.

The big four banks in Australia have seen investment in software bearing fruit in terms of efficiency, revenue growth and customer satisfaction, but still face challenges with technology. This article on TechCrunch discusses how banks must embrace technology-driven changes and look for new opportunities in order to stay relevant. So where are we now and what impact will the rapid development in mobile technology have on the future of banking and finance?

Where we are today

Adoption of mobile for the banking and finance sector is no longer an option. Stats show that more time is spent in mobile apps than in all of the web combined, with predictions that by 2020, 80% of adults in the world will have a smartphone. And, according to Visa, Australia is leading the world in the adoption of contactless payments, and Apple Pay will only accelerate this. Mobile is no longer an option, but a necessity and a key channel for delivery of financial services.

While the major players like CBA, ANZ, nab and Westpac recognise the importance of mobile and have mobile apps which deliver their core business offerings, a great mobile experience that allows people to access their money when and where they want is now the norm. It is not sufficient if you want to increase customer satisfaction, grow revenue or increase efficiencies with your organisation.

We live in the age of the ‘entitled consumer’. These consumers expect more, trust their peers, are informed, have choices and have a voice. Consumers feel entitled to:

  • Real time and 24/7 banking services
  • Access to their financial information when and where they need it
  • Real time, secure and convenient transactions
  • Simple, intuitive and seamless user experiences

When this is not the case, there is outrage. You only have to look at the reviews on the App Store to see how damaging a bad user experience can be for a brand. For example:

This would have to be the worst banking app I’ve ever used… It hardly ever works, takes forever to sign in and transfer from different accounts. It’s so frustrating because I have no other choice but to use it, even considered changing banks because of how terrible this app is.

If you have a product that doesn’t meet consumer expectations, bad App Store reviews are just the beginning. Social media provides consumers with multiple channels to amplify their frustration. Needless to say that this can be very damaging to a brand’s reputation.

People not only expect a mobile service offering, but demand smarter use of their information. This video by McKinsey & Company shows how digital presents a huge opportunity for banks to innovate and personalise the customer experience. Banks particularly have access to a wealth of consumer data, which can be harnessed to deliver personalised experiences of true value. That’s why mobile innovation is critical. Instead of just delivering what is expected, financial services businesses need to deliver more value in order to remain competitive.

Consumers will naturally flock towards the products and brands that deliver the best value and experience. A great user experience can reduce the cost and friction of switching brands. More and more in mobile we see how readily consumers are to change their behaviours and adopt new ways of doing things if they can see value in doing it.

A great example of this is the Grow by ANZ app. Grow is the first app in the world to combine banking, share trading, superannuation and soon insurance in one app. Superannuation is often an afterthought amongst consumers, with most people unsure of how much super they have or how it is invested. By combining super with basic banking functionality, ANZ saw improved engagement amongst its customers, with people checking their super whilst performing their everyday banking activities. Grow also makes it incredibly easy for people to roll up their super and switch to ANZ. Similarly, Grow makes share trading as simple and easy to use as basic banking.

Since its launch, Grow has seen a significant increase in the number of trading accounts being opened because of the app. Below are a few examples of customer reviews on the App Store which demonstrate the success of Grow and the importance of user experience:

So easy to manage my super. I needed to tell my employer where I wanted to them to pay my super. I downloaded Grow and two minutes later, I printed a form to give to my employer. All I had to do was sign it – everything else was filler out.

Very smooth app. Good that I can look at my Stocks and banking on the same app without having to log in & out of the two sites. Accessibility for myself as being legally blind is excellent, I can scroll between windows effortlessly.

Beautiful and functional. Convenience, easy to use and looks great. This takes goMoney to a whole new level. Banking AND shares AND super. Love the “Notify my Employer” feature in Smart Choice.

While it’s important to understand the current landscape, it’s also important to look ahead and start planning for 2015. And with such exciting changes in the technology, this is the perfect time to do so.

What lies ahead: Four areas to watch

So where are we headed? What lies ahead for mobile banking and finance in 2015? Outware is working with some of Australia’s biggest brands to deliver mobile innovation in this space over the coming year and here are some of our observations.

1. Contactless payments will become the norm for mobile in 2015 and beyond, with people moving from tapping their cards to tapping their phones to pay for everyday items. According to Visa, Australian’s are hooked on tap and go payments, Mastercard envisages the death of the wallet, and Apple Pay is set to accelerate mobile payments. You can be sure that the major players such as the big four banks and Visa and Mastercard are working hard right now to carve out their unique service offerings in this space.

The Coles Mobile Wallet app is a prime example of how to leverage existing behaviours and simplify the transaction process. Users can tap to pay using a Pay Tag attached to the back of their phone and see the transaction immediately using the app. They can also scan the Pay Tag to earn flybuys points, without ever needing to take out their wallet. The app is a necessary stepping stone to help lead consumers from something they know to what could be possible in the future.

2. Businesses that embrace biometrics and deliver the highest levels of security will stand the test of time. With the opening up of Touch ID in iOS 8 to third party applications, users will start to expect easier and more secure login options to their financial services apps. Visa and Mastercard are also working together to develop improved authentication standards for online payments, which will take advantage of biometrics and make existing processes more seamless and shield against competition. Software is serious business and requires investment in time and money in order to get it right. Businesses who understand this will succeed, while those who don’t build a quality product will get left behind and lose the trust of their customers.

3. Wearables will start to change the way we interact with financial services. There’s no denying the growth and interest in wearables at the moment, but the biggest changes will come from businesses that make innovative use of wearables to provide consumers with more time savings and remove barriers to make things easier. The announcement of the Apple Watch and how it can be used with Apple Pay will see financial services businesses start to re-imagine how we’ve always done banking and finance.

4. The emergence of new players in the financial services space will create more competition and therefore more innovation. We’ve already started to see a fluidity along the lines separating the banking and finance sector from other sectors. The latest release of the Cash by Optus app is a great example of this. Telcos are not just interested in networks and hardware, they now have a big stake in enabling payments as well. Organisations who come up with the most innovative changes in the industry and challenge the existing norms using mobile technologies will develop a competitive advantage difficult to rival.

In summary, the key take-aways for those in banking and finance are:

  • Be where your customers are. Mobile is essential to financial services.
  • Deliver more than what your customers expect. Delight them and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Innovation will lead to competitive advantages that are difficult to replicate. Be creative.

This is a great time and a great opportunity to re-imagine the banking and finance sector and change things for the better. Invest in mobile and deliver true value to reap the rewards of increases in revenue, operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction. This is just the beginning, the possibilities are endless.


Coles Mobile Wallet has won another award, cementing its position as a leading product in banking and finance innovation.

The app received a Silver award in the Digital Experience – Mobile category of the 2014 Melbourne Design Awards.

As part of the global [city] Design Awards program, the Melbourne Design Awards celebrate creativity, courage and innovation in design. Melbourne has its own design focus and culture– the [city] Design Awards program provides a unique opportunity for a city’s design community to join together in celebrating their design diversity and the city’s top designers and commissioners.

At Outware, we believe that designing a great user experience is just as important as the engineering behind the scenes in producing a quality mobile app. We are very proud of our partnership and work with Coles Financial Services on the Coles Mobile Wallet and delighted to see the industry recognising and rewarding our hard work.

Well done to all those involved in the Coles Mobile Wallet project. Great job, let’s keep it up!