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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.

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