Beyond the wall of solitary innovation: 3 examples from Berlin

By Michael Hoffmann, Head • Visa Co-Creation Center Berlin

December 12, 2017

Sometimes, my home country is a paradox to me. We live in one of the highest digitised countries in the world yet it is also one of the most cash-driven societies in the Western hemisphere. Germans love high-tech consumer goods and gadgets – just looking at the smartphone penetration in this market proves this. But although there has been a quantum leap in credit card acceptance in German retail in recent years, you still experience difficulties trying to pay cashless, even for a taxi ride in our capital Berlin. And German consumers do not seem to mind. At the same time, they appreciate the convenience of new mobility services and take for granted paying for these seamlessly with Visa in this country and its capital which is also the world’s capital in car sharing. The conclusion I draw from this: Germans are open to innovation – but, please, beyond plastic.

Visa's innovation approach addresses the core of this problem. We have experienced a strategic shift from a credit card business to a global tech company which gives partners direct access to the resources of a global payment and retail network. Why? To support our clients in developing new solutions for consumers that provide a real added value to their everyday life. We enable this by letting our partners plug into our APIs, as we see a high demand in this area.

So, joining the Bankathon – Germany’s leading fintech hackathon – was a no-brainer for us. The event, organised by the fintech figo, took place in Berlin, home-base of Visa’s German Co-Creation Centre. We brought our event sponsorship to life by providing the more than 80 developers present at the hackathon with access to the Visa Developer APIs. During the event which was very well attended with more than 250 guests, including issuers such as Hanseatic Bank, DKB and Deutsche Bank, the developers worked on 20 prototypes in five theme tracks. The overall theme of the event was “PSD2 and…?”.

At the Bankathon, we experienced some really impressive cases which prove the potential of collaboration – even though they were developed in only 30 hours. Visa mentored the travel track, though developers from almost all tracks used our APIs.

One example was a smart and traveller-friendly use-case developed by the team “IFTTT4P”. The banking app could help users save real money by establishing a Visa card functionality able to veto transactions that come along with DCC fees.

Another team developed the prototype "Healthcoin" and won the health track. Using the Visa Direct API, the mobile app rewards a healthy lifestyle by converting collected data from step counters to tokens on a blockchain which in turn can be redeemed for real money. The on-site live demo impressed the jury and sent a message to health-insurance companies about what is already possible.

The travel track winner “Triplee” picked up on the existing idea of cost-splitting apps for group travels but took it to the next level. Using the API of Visa’s global partner Marqeta and the Visa Direct API, Triplee created a shared account to be charged by each traveller and built a virtual Visa card ready to use for digital payments. After the holiday, Triplee automatically routes outstanding balances back to the group members.

Considering that our Visa Direct API just launched recently, it’s amazing to see its wide-ranging potential and field of application. We see this as an encouraging example proving that PSD2 should not be regarded as a pain point. It’s an opportunity and offers potential for banks, fintechs and also third parties beyond our finance ecosystem.

Photo: © www.mike-auerbach.com

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