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Hacking fintech hackathons

Here are the winners from the fintech hackathons held in Australia over the last couple of months:

  • June 2016: BoQ Hackathon, Brisbane: Start Young, teaching financial management to kids
  • July 2016, Fintech Startup Weekend, Brisbane:Kids bank,an app that helps put the fun back into saving by incorporating savings goals in an attempt to capture the ‘pocket money economy’
  • August 2016, CUA Hackathon, Brisbane: CUAngels, solutions to assist people in leaving domestic violence
  • September 2016, Fintech Startup Weekend, Sydney: Tap4Change, a social welfare payments platform

Notice a trend here?

If you want to win a fintech hackathon in Australia, prioritise a social outcome.

Your fintech startup is not a disruptor

I tend to keep my ear to the ground a lot in the fintech space. I enjoy learning about new things and learning about new ways of solving old problems. Australia has a lot happening in the fintech space, which is really awesome. In fact, in the space of 3 months in Brisbane (not exactly a financial capital) there were 3 startup weekends dedicated to finance.

With all that is happening, I see a lot of people throwing around the d-word. Disruption. Specifically, everyone is looking to “disrupt” the banks. The only problem is, almost none of them are actually disrupting anything.

I read an article a couple of days ago which has finally helped me to reconcile in my head how to categorise the fintech startups and their effect on the ecosystem. They’re not disrupting, they are displacing.

Peer-to-peer lenders andFX payments providers for instance… they are not disrupting the banks, they are merely displacing them (or part of their profits).

Peer-to-peer lending, as a model, doesn’t really work in my opinion. Many offshore companies in that space are now raising trusts to fund loans. That’s not peer-to-peer, that’s securitisation delivered through an online portal. Aussie John Symond was first to take it to the banks – the result was a significant shift in the home lending landscape. But the banks are still here – he didn’t disrupt them, he displaced them. The result was a decrease in margins, and at best that is what the peer-to-peer lenders can hope to inflict on the banks. At the rate they are going at the moment, I’m not hopeful.

In the end, the Australian banks are some of the most profitable in the world. The fintechs that are in the market at the moment, that I am aware of, are displacing some of the banks’ business and will probably chip away at their profitability. It is unlikely that any will cause more than an annoyance. If you know of any fintechs that have true disruptive capacity, shoot me an email I would love to learn about them.

 

Internet Button – How to set it up

Recently, one of my colleagues and I bought an internet button from Particle.io. I thought it would be fun to play around with. After spending a few (frustrating) hours trying to get it to work as I wanted, I thought it might be helpful if I gave an overview of how I got it running. If you’re a whiz developer, you probably don’t need to read this. However, if you’re not a programer and thought that you’d buy an internet button to play around with, this guide is going to save you a serious amount of time.

What are we going to learn?

In the first instance, the plan was to enable you to hit the button to send an email. Fundamentally, we will get the button up and running and connect it to IFTTT.

Why is this guide needed?

Fundamentally, this guide is needed because all of the instructions seem to be old and don’t work. Also, the code repos that they recommend you download into your IDE also seem to be old and don’t work. So rather than you try and figure it out, I am going to give you the TL;DR.

You’re not a developer, but you got it to work. How?

This question is simply an excuse for me to insert my new favourite meme (thanks Shaw!), which pretty much sums up all of my development efforts. I laugh, because it is true (mostly).

Pasted image at 2016_08_19 08_46 PM

Cale is not a developer

 Ok, what needs to be done

Well, once the button arrives you need to follow the instructions to set it up. When the instructions get to a part about “flashing” the memory of the button from the console, this is where it gets tricky. Rather than muck about, here is code that is guaranteed to work (well, it worked for me):

#include "InternetButton/InternetButton.h"

// Create a Button named b. It will be your friend, and you two will spend lots of time together.
// You may be wondering about those two slashes and this gray text- they're called comments, and
// don't affect the code. Think of this as the voice of the narrator.
InternetButton b = InternetButton();

// The code in setup() runs once when the device is powered on or reset. Used for setting up states, modes, etc
void setup() {
// Tell b to get everything ready to go
// Use b.begin(1); if you have the original SparkButton, which does not have a buzzer or a plastic enclosure
// to use, just add a '1' between the parentheses in the code below.
b.begin();
}
void loop() {
if(b.buttonOn(2)){
Particle.publish("allbuttons","Tim", 1, PRIVATE);
delay(1000);
} 

else {
b.allLedsOn(0,165,0);
}
}

You simply have to copy and paste the above code into the IDE, hit the Verify button at the top left (the tick), and then flash the code to your internet button (press the button above – it looks like a lightning bolt).

Now, log into your console and click on your device. When you press the button, it should come through with “Tim” to the log. If that’s the case, you can now connect IFTTT to listen for “Tim” and you are away… the world is your internet button oyster.

Why Tim?
Long story.

Treasury Today article

I was recently interviewed by Treasury Today regarding an article I wrote on LinkedIn. It was an interesting process, both internally at work and with Treasury Today. Whilst the article didn’t necessarily come out exactly as I had envisioned in my head, I thought James from TT did a great job. Reading the article, the theme fundamentally reads as “technical skills should not be forgotten on Treasury’s march to become strategically relevant”. That is something I totally agree with, and was a sub-theme of the LinkedIn post.

However, the over-arching theme to the original LinkedIn post was really, “The difference on the bottom line between a good and a bad treasurer is many times your CEO’s salary. So choose your treasurer thoughtfully.”

Here is the article on Treasury Today’s website. A big thanks to James Hayward for his flexibility and for thinking that anyone would be interested in what I had to say!

#9 Excel Tip a Day: Zoom to Selection

#9 Excel Tip a Day: Zoom to Selection

Here is tip #9 in a series of an Excel Tip a Day for December 2015 – Zoom to Selection. Tips range from the obvious to the simple to some more complex tips. Hopefully there is something you find helpful!

Don’t you hate it when the spreadsheet you are working on is just a little too large for your current screen? If you’re like me, you probably just scrolled backwards and forwards to see all of the columns. Well, there is better way.

Highlight the information you would like to see on the screen. Then go to View->Zoom to Selection as illustrated below. Easy!

I hope you found this tip helpful!

#8 Excel Tip a Day: Working with Tabs

#8 Excel Tip a Day: Working with Tabs

Here is tip #8 in a series of an Excel Tip a Day for December 2015 – Working with Tabs . Tips range from the obvious to the simple to some more complex tips. Hopefully there is something you find helpful!

This tip is pretty obvious, but you’ll probably recognise that you have failed to do it in the past.

If you’re working with a spreadsheet that has a large number of tabs, you’ll often be jumping from one tab to another. Rather than using the scroll bar to do so, you can just temporarily drag the tabs close to eachother. When you are done working across those two tabs, drag the temporarily relocated tab back to where it came from. Simple, but a good little productivity hack.

I hope this was of some assistance to you!