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“From Zero to Fintech” hackathon aims to make Bulgaria a tech-savvy nation

“From Zero to Fintech” hackathon aims to make Bulgaria a tech-savvy nation, TheRecursive.com
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In just one day, the Bulgarian Fintech Association together with the Faculty of Economic and Business Administration (FEBA) at Sofia University will set the start to the first fintech hackathon organized in the country under the name “From Zero to Fintech”. The event that will take place from 6th to 14th March aims to help participants develop the skills needed for creating sustainable fintech solutions, making a strong investors pitch, align operations with existing regulations, and enable the best teams to continue working on their projects after the end of the hackathon. The organizers from FEBA share that the idea for the event is at the border between a hackathon and a startup accelerator and it came up during their “FinTech and E-Banking” course and became a reality after BFA and its partners took it to heart and managed to organize. 

“Bulgaria and the SEE region have the highly qualified human capital to be in the center of development of financial technologies, but for the ecosystem to mature, we need a critical mass of ideas and entrepreneurs. The hackathon will be one major step towards cultivating more home-grown FinTechs by creating a platform where multidisciplinary talent, the core of Industry 4.0, can meet and exchange ideas and match their skills to create products that serve a larger portion of the society than what incumbent banks can,” highlights Deyan Radev who is a professor of Fintech and Banking at the Sofia University.  

Ready, set…fintech 

The registration is currently open to everyone who has an interest in the fields of finance, no matter whether they have a background in business, IT, or marketing, as long as they are eager to work on projects which develop solutions for open banking, regtech, insurtech, P2P lending, and more. Applicants need to register with either an idea for a fintech solution or select to work on one of the case studies of Paysera, Nexo, Iris Solutions, or Klear. Participants can sign without a team and form one of up to six members during the event and communication will happen through Slack, Microsoft Teams, and online software for visual collaboration. Participants will be provided access to the open-banking data of 13 banks and financial institutions from Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania, as well as Revolut and Paysera. They will use an API integration to enter the PSD2 HUB platform that offers financial institutions and companies from the region to apply open-banking in their operations. 

Read more:  Greece: Emerging Fintech Ecosystems in CEE

What to expect: know-how sharing, speakers, and prizes? 

The jury and mentors of the hackathon include names from the Bulgarian public sector such as the Executive director of the Bulgarian small and medium-size enterprise promotion agency, Boyko Takov, as well as representatives of the Bulgarian diaspora in Silicon Valley such as Assen Tchorbadjiev who is the Senior advisor for business & technology operations at Accenture and Victor Penev – the founder and CEO of the foodtech startup Edamam and the co-founder of NetInfo. When it comes to the mentors the participants will receive advice from fintech specialists such as Gergana Stoichkova, an Investment Associate at Eleven Ventures, and Ivo Georgiev, who is the co-founder of Paynetics, as well as from representatives of the four business cases companies.  

As the goal of the event is to encourage real-world problem solving and enable projects to become real, the awards for the best teams are focused on ensuring the future development of ideas and new skills. The first prize is $12K in IBM Cloud credits for one year, which would give the winners access to AI, blockchain, analytics, and security services, as well as legal advice from the international law firm PMP that will help the winners build a business model compliant with current fintech regulations. The second team will be awarded free 9-months access to the PSD2 productional environment of Iris Solutions, while the team in the third place will receive €2K worth of orientation consulting from the provider of security and compliance services 7Security Group. 

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.
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