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May 25, 2017

On Fintech, Hackathons and collaborations w. Startups: An interview with Maroiane Naami

Between June 9 - 11, BNP Paribas International Hackathon is taking place in betahaus. Open to teams and startups at all stages, it’s now the third year in a row that the banking group is organizing the hackathon, which includes the coaching-and-funding intensive after-trajectory. In preparation for the big event, we talk to Maroiane Naami, Head of New Business Models & Fintech Relations at BNP Paribas and organiser of the hackathons, about the drive to succeed, collaborating with startups, and the future of fintech.

1.This year BNP Paribas is organising its third international hackathon for startups in all stages. How has the hackathon developed over these three years?

It is evolving very well. On the one hand, we have improved many aspects of the hackathon in order to offer startups the best possible program. On the other hand, we’ve learned a lot from getting close to startups and the ecosystem.

Plus, the German entity of the BNP Paribas group, Consors Bank, joined last year. We are happy that Berlin—the undeniably influential Hub of startups in Europe—is in our map now.

2. What do you like most about organizing these hackathons? What’s your drive?

Organizing the hackathon is great because it brings together our large corporation and the startup world. The program starts with just a 48-hour event, which means we have to make this very short amount of time as efficient as possible. The challenge is to provide startups with useful information, give them good tools to work with efficiently, whilst fostering a calm and positive hacking environment for them to deliver a proposal or a solution within only a few hours. We make an effort to offer startups a smooth, fruitful, yet fun hackathon weekend.

3. This year, you’re looking for teams who are into data analytics, exploitation, prediction, and visualization, that can be used, for instance, for advisory purposes, client profiling, financial planning and engagement, and digital banking services. In which field do you expect to attract most startups? Why did you decide to focus on these fields, and not on startups working on for instance on AI, or block-chain technologies?

We do work on AI, blockchain and other technologies in Germany, as well as in other business units of the BNP Paribas group. But this year we want to take data exploitation to the next level. Today, data is the biggest resource tank in the world (bigger than oil or any other known resource). Its potential is tremendous. Through other opportunities, like group contests, startup events, accelerators and incubators, we have met so many smart emerging startup teams. We thought, why not working together on the data challenge? Our data management team is very keen to meet, talk and work with the selected startups in the upcoming hackathon.

4. Last year, Aboalarm won the BNP Hackathon in Berlin. How is your collaboration with them working out?

It’s doing great. Aboalarm was our winner, standing out among many other very interesting startups. The team at Aboalarm has done a great job in proposing and adapting a truly innovative solution to our needs. Now the challenge is on our side and we are working to roll out their solution as soon as possible.

5. A few weeks back, Tech Asia published an article about fintech in China. The article describes the booming and exciting fintech scene there, and outlines some pretty amazing services and innovations, explaining how China’s fintech sectors sketch a picture of how fintech may shape up around the rest of the world. What do you make of this article?

Banks and fintechs are simultaneously innovating and disrupting. The fintech boom in Asia is a totally new dynamic and is shaking up the industry, giving greater momentum and taking on bigger challenges. Fintechs are, to me, as legitimate as traditional banks for improving and reinventing the sector. Whatever the size of the company, banks and fintechs are addressing the same services for the same market. It is up to both to boost the banking sector.

6. Do you believe that the booming-but-problematic fintech in China to some extent proves that we’ll always need big banking groups in order to ensure trustworthiness, privacy, and safety?

I do believe in a complementary configuration with win-win opportunities when it comes to fintechs and large corporations working together. Banking is a highly regulated market. I believe banks have the experience that, when working in collaboration, can help startups to move in the right direction. Large banks have also a large customer market that they can  open up to startups, so that they can work to provide new solutions. Startups are undeniable solving problems in the sector with specially designed platforms and accurate features. We, as banks, wish to work closely with them so we can rapidly scale these new features for clients. Collaborative work should always benefit the bank, the startup, and, of course, first and foremost the client.

7. Let’s think utopian for a second. What do you hope the banking and fintech market will look like in say, 10 years?

No-one knows, but that’s the best part of it. I can only imagine a world with transparent payments, security operations with transparent authentication, and insurance benefits without claims. Basically, removing anything getting in the way of our customers’ journey.


Startups can apply to the BNP Paribas International hackathon via F6S until June 1st latest.

Want to become part of the betahaus community? Find out how !

"The Summer is the best time to host Backyard sessions and BBQ’s’’

In the summer, we launched a couple of new events in Neukölln like Freelancers, Unite!, The Backyard Sessions and My friend’s BBQ. 

Freelancers, Unite! developed as our productive coworking session with freelancers from in and outside the ‘haus. Once a month, we picked an important freelance topic (such as taxes, time-management, etc) and invited experts to give us insights on the topic. We saw so many new faces and had the chance to come back closer to where we started from - the freelance, grassroots culture. 

Freelancers, Unite! at betahaus | Neukölln

Another event, which started in July (and turned out to be our favourite events) were The Backyard Sessions. Organised by our queen of Neukölln - Robbin – the Backyard Sessions are our creative evenings with live music jams, movie screenings and cocktails. 

The Backyard Sessions at basement.berlin
Movie Screening at basement.berlin

This last event was hilarious because for quite some time, nobody knew exactly who organised it or invited them. The friend was throwing a BBQ for the community in the garden and this led to all our members joining and staying after for a beer or two with us.

‘’My favourite moment this year was the second friends bbq which was actually cancelled because of the rain forecast. But despite the bad weather, people show up and it turned into a super nice intimate evening with Elizaveta and Paul giving a garden concert.’’ - Robbin (Community Manager, betahaus)

''In July, it was great how the casual after-work BBQ turned into an impromptu acoustic blues jam session with Elizavetta Barsegova and Paul, who have the voice of an angel. Actually, all of the My Friend's BBQ's and Backyard Sessions were AWESOME.’’
- Paige (Head of Marketing, betahaus) 

The Garden at betahaus | Neukölln
My Friend's BBQ at betahaus | Neukölln

"As a coworking space, you have to give stage to important topics.’’

This year we released a new event format in Kreuzberg called ‘’The betaSalon’’. It's an open panel discussion which aims to give stage to important topics and give free speech on them. The fist one we did on the EU elections, last month we talked about changemakers, but our favourite one for this season stays ‘’Mother + Founder’’ where we partnered with FemGems podcast and recorded a live podcast episode for them having Madeleine Gummer von Mohl (betahaus co-founder), Kristine Zeller (co-creater of ooshi period underwear) and Luisa Hoffman on the stage.

betaSalon at betahaus | Kreuzberg

"We should fight for a more human-centered tech development’’

Every September, our co-founders take part in the Techfestival. in Copenhagen, spending a few days disconnecting from the daily life and focusing on creating a better, more human-centered tech future. This year the think tank which included our co-founders Madeleine and Max came up with the TechPledge. The Tech Pledge was made to emphasize the need for a new direction in tech. Similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors, the Tech Pledge is a promise to make tech a force for good and ensure responsible and sustainable tech leadership. It’s a commitment to driving a new direction in technology.

Techfestival. 2019 in Copenhagen

"Startups are transforming European football as we know it.’’

One of the most exciting projects for betahausX this year (which is also continuing in 2020) is their new startup challenge called The Werder Lab - a global startup competition that aims to reimagine the way clubs like Werder work with athletes, fans and partners.

"You should leave time for the things you love most’’ 

This year couldn’t end without us having our favourite events - the end-of-the-year holiday party and the BETAPITCH Global Finals. On the 6th of December we saw the 9 finalists of the regional BETAPITCH competitions pitching in front of our jury. Congrats to Troy from Hamburg for winning the big prize.

We finished the year at our Holiday Party celebrating anything and everything at betahaus | Neukölln together with our members, friends of friends and our favourite artists from Passiflora LIVE, Tapete and Kotoe.

Love at The betahaus Holiday Party 2019

Thank you for being with us in 2019. It's been a crazy big year for us and it wouldn't been possible without your support, trust and the hard work of our amazing team. Have an amazing holiday time and we'll see you again in 2020.

With love,


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