New innovations at Ultrahack Sprint II – the stories of the three winning teams

OP's wealth APIs put to the test at Ultrahack - OP Developer


OP's wealth APIs put to the test at Ultrahack

Ultrahack Sprint II took place in Otaniemi, Espoo, 30 Nov – 2 Dec 2018. Let’s take a look at the three winning teams, and how they worked together with OP Developer team.

OP’s track was called Hack the Index, and the challenge presented to the hackers was to create a solution that would make investing easier and accessible to everyone, with the help of our new wealth APIs.

After 48 hours of intensive coding, the judges were faced with the task of picking the winners from a roster of 10 teams. The winning teams were:

1st place: Team SPOT – Semantic Portfolio Toolkit – 5000 €

2nd place: Team Derivatify – 4000 €

3rd place: Team iInvest – 1000 €

After the dust had settled, we had a chat with the top three and talked about APIs and their developer experience with OP.

Team SPOT’s tool helps investors make more informed decisions

“The main reason to join Ultrahack was the opportunity to discuss doing a pilot with OP, and that’s what we got,” says Vincent Kuo, CEO at VXT Research with contentment. The team’s solution to OP’s challenge was a tool that mines data from news articles and classifies them, so that the user can easily find information relevant to his or her stock portfolio and make more informed decisions on the stock market. In addition to winning the whole track, the team is currently negotiating opportunities in OP’s pilot programs.

The company behind the team, VXT Research, has been solving various problems for clients both in public and private sector, creating e.g. text-based AI systems, semantic technologies, and recommendation and search engines. However, this was their first time trying their hand in the financial sector.

“It seems like OP is quite progressive compared to many other companies in digitalization and in opening APIs. You’ve invested a lot in them and you’re serious about it, which makes OP an interesting partner,” says Lasse Hakulinen, Chief Scientific Officer at VXT Research.

The team made the final decision to participate in OP’s track after the mentoring sessions before the actual hackathon weekend. In their opinion, the pre-hack event was the most important meeting with OP, as they could explore where their and OP’s goals converge.

According to Vincent, there could be even more matchmaking before the hackathon weekend, as the spirit in many hackathons has changed a bit: still some time ago, hackers were supposed to start from zero when the hackathon weekend started, but nowadays, it seems that the organisers are looking for the most mature product.

The team has taken part in various hackathons: they enjoy the speed of development and the opportunity to test and receive feedback very quickly. In addition, hackathons help them discover the different purposes for which their AI engine is suited. “Also, Ultrahack was a way to get through and get more personal conversations with OP, which is not usual with big companies,” Vincent adds.

Team Derivatify – Providing a new marketplace for derivatives

“We want to make it possible and more attractive to trade derivatives,” says Ilmari Ayres, the Chairman at Exebit Oy. Their four-person team developed a marketplace where anyone could issue or trade derivatives. Exebit explain that issuer solvency could be guaranteed by setting a policy that each issuer holds a certain amount of securities or cash – in effect, ensuring that no-one can over-exert beyond their means.

In addition to a webpage and a mobile app, the hard-working team incorporated fingerprints and a voice UI to their product. The innovativeness of the idea and its impressive execution secured the team the second place at OP’s track.

Exebit Oy is a small, one-year-old company, working in R&D and consulting. However, in one year, the team has already taken part in nearly 10 hackathons. Juho Niemi, the company’s Head of Marketing & Sales, says that the team was satisfied with the way they were able to collaborate with OP Developer: “We’ve never been to a hackathon where we get so much feedback on our work, and that helps us develop our idea further! In other hackathons, we’ve sometimes faced situations where we haven’t been able to continue working due to lack of clarity and communication. This time we felt that with our team, there was also another team helping us!”

The team finds OP’s wealth APIs versatile and feature-rich. However, there’s always space for improvement, as Ilmari explains: “The documentation is at times a bit so and so. We couldn’t always find everything easily.”

Exebit Oy has already been discussing the possibility of taking the project further with the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority. Because the concept is brand-new in Finnish as well as in European markets, a lot of research remains to be done on how to get their platform up and going.

For now, they continue developing the first version of the derivative marketplace on top of OP’s APIs, with hopes of piloting the service in collaboration with OP. “Based on the hackathon, we believe that at least in Finland, OP is the most capable partner to do this,” Juho concludes.

iInvest: A mobile app to help anyone get started with investing

Third position was taken by a team that actually comprised of a single innovative developer. Samuli Polvi has participated in Ultrahack once before – that time with a proper team – and when he saw OP’s challenge, he decided he would apply again.

“The challenge described a problem that I have experienced myself, and to which I’d like to have a solution. I got the idea right away as soon as I saw read the challenge,” Samuli explains. “I was alone without a team, but I had a very strong vision what I wanted to do and I was sure that I could realize my plans.”

The result was a Proof-of-Concept showing how OP’s already-existing mobile app, OP-mobiili, could be expanded with new features developed on top of OP’s wealth APIs. Samuli’s app helps the user get started with investing by e.g. teaching the basics and testing the user’s knowledge afterwards. What’s more, the app continuously evaluates the user’s risk profile with the help of machine learning.

“My idea was not to create a separate application, but an idea that OP could possibly utilize,” Samuli says. “First and foremost, I wanted to challenge myself, learn new things and spend a great weekend with like-minded people.”

Samuli says he has noticed that as of late, large companies have shown a clear desire to invest in developing good APIs. Unfortunately, the documentation is often incomplete, messy or outdated. “But I got the feeling that OP really wants to push these things forward and make it easy to start using their APIs.”

Samuli was happy to notice how supportive the OP Developer team was during the hackathon. “I also heard from other teams that if there were bugs or problems with an API, the OP Developer team would be actively fixing them during the hackathon.”

Besides the innovative end result, Samuli drew attention by working nearly round the clock. During the 48 hours, the energetic hacker slept only 3.5 hours. “Yeah, I was really tired for a few days after the hackathon,” Samuli admits and laughs. “But the event was what I expected – in fact, it gave me even more!”