ICICI Bank launches ‘Appathon’ to bat on the UPI pitch

ICICI Bank launched its virtual app development challenge ‘ICICI Appathon’, on Friday, inviting the developer community and technology companies, startups and technopreneurs to help create the next generation of banking applications on mobile.

As a part of the Appathon, ICICI Bank and group of companies (ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Lombard General Insurance and Securities) are offering a diverse set of 50 application programme interface (APIs), along with APIs from Visa and ‘Unified Payment Interface’ (UPI) from National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI). Hosted on IBM Bluemix cloud platform, the announcement comes within a week of the launch of the UPI architecture from NPCI.

The challenge requires participants to create at least one innovative working prototype on the themes of virtual banking and financial services, to be submitted by March 27, 2016. Subsequently, the finalists will be announced on April 7, judged on the parameters of uniqueness, functionality, business potential, user experience and scalability of their solution.

The top three winners will also be entitled to prizes from a pool of over Rs 20 lakh with potential engagement opportunity with ICICI Bank. Moreover, the winners applying to the ‘10,000 Startups’ of NASSCOM will get fast-tracked entry, with two members of the winning team getting access to network and co-working community of 91springboard (a co-working community of freelancers, startups and established small to large businesses) across India.

Speaking on the initiative, Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank, said,

“Taking technology as a core of our strategy, we have introduced the ‘ICICI Appathon’. Through the ‘ICICI Appathon’, we want to broad-base and leverage on the innovative ideas and the exceptional talent in our developers, technopreneurs and technology startups. We believe that programmes like these will encourage young developers to create world-class banking applications on mobile and will strengthen the government’s ‘Digital India’ mission. We hope to get ideas for some exceptional apps at the end of this development challenge.”

With the challenge allowing at most five members in a team and an open-theme mobile solution programme, it will be interesting to see what disruptive solutions come out from the programme, especially when the UPI-based APIs are out in the challenge.

These type of events are also good opportunities for fintech startups to partner and associate with banks and be in the game to capitalise on UPI architecture.