The logo for the cyber hacking group ‘Anonymous’ is seen on computer screens..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Credit card giant Mastercard held its first Tel Aviv Hackathon Thursday and Friday, bringing teams of local programmers together.
“MasterCard is a tech company in the payment space and there’s no better place for us to partner than Tel Aviv and the Start-Up Nation of Israel,” said Sidney Gottesman, who is in charge of Emerging Payment Tech and MasterCard.
Tel Aviv’s Hackathon was one of 10 “Master of Code” events around the world, where successful teams of programmers are to have a chance to advance to a final round in Silicon Valley, and compete for $100,000.
Each of the 10 cities competing in the hackathon were given a specific theme, and in Tel Aviv the theme was aimed at crowdfunding and social media.
“I believe Israel is very much a social media driven market, and there’s a lot happening on messaging platforms, and we thought it’s a good match and a tough challenge,” said Andras Hemberger, country manager for MasterCard Israel.
Other cities’ themes included cross-border payments (Hong Kong), checkout experience (Sydney) and financial inclusion (São Paulo).
As new technology disrupts industry after industry, bankers and financiers of all varieties are trying to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve (so much so that Gottesman described MasterCard as a technology company in the payment space, not a payment company with a technological angle). Online payments, mobile payments and other smartphone and Internet-based payment innovations are quickly changing how commerce takes place.
As a result, MasterCard is just the most recent financial firm to seek the latest in Israeli financial technology innovation. In April, Citi held a startup challenge in Jerusalem. Bank Leumi joined with The Elevator, an accelerator, while Bank Hapoalim set up a fund for investing in fintech start-ups.
The Economy Ministry’s chief scientist’s annual innovation report this year noted the trend of increased interest in Israel’s fintech.
“The Israeli financial sector’s openness to adopting and promoting technological innovation, as both investors and advisers, is expected to greatly assist the hi-tech sector,” the report said.