Developers and students go head to head in app challenge

Westpac’s App Challenge has received more than 630 registrations of interest so far

Second year Bachelor of Technology student Avish Kapadia is entering an idea for a mobile app into Westpac’s App Challenge competition. The bank took the somewhat unusual step of launching a competition to find its next mobile consumer app. The challenge started in June and entries will close in two weeks' time.

“For someone like me, it’s a great opportunity to get the real-world experience,” says Kapadia. “It’s not about the money; it’s about the experience and the challenge itself.”

The winning app idea will be rewarded $10,000.

Kapadia is entering the competition together will three classmates at the University of Auckland as part of a group assignment.

“For us, this is first-hand experience of what it is like to pitch an idea to a real business,” he says.

Kapadia says this kind of crowdsourcing initiative is a way for a business to involve anyone who has an interest in participating.

“I think it opens up the market to some really great ideas. And I think many other businesses will take on this approach in the future.”

Westpac has received more than 630 registrations of interest so far, says Simon Pomeroy, Westpac’s head of digital.

“It has just blown us away how many people have expressed an interest in submitting their idea.”

The bank held a meetup in Auckland for interested parties a couple of weeks ago and about 100 people showed up, he says. Attendees ranged from established developers, designers and agencies to tertiary students, he says. Pomeroy spoke for about 30 minutes about the challenge, and then answered questions for another 30 minutes, he says.

“It’s the first time that we know of that a bank doing this,” he says. “We wanted to do something that engaged the community and to get a different perspective than we have as a bank.”

The winner of the challenge can choose to develop the app with Westpac, or simply walk away with the $10,000. The plan is to take the app to market, with Westpac branding and launching it in New Zealand and ideally Australia, says Pomeroy.

The winner will retain ownership of all intellectual property rights, but will grant Westpac an “exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and royalty free right to use, modify, develop or otherwise deal with your proposal and the app concept in any way whatsoever”, says Westpac’s website.

As part of the initiative, Westpac representatives have travelled around the country to talk to tertiary institutions, says Pomeroy.

“We are also talking about potential internships as a result [of the competition], and employment opportunities,” he says.

“I’m really excited about opening that box and see what ideas are in there. We may get some really surprising different ways we can approach pretty common banking features.”

Submissions have already started coming through. These will be kept by the bank’s legal team until the close of the competition, says Pomeroy.

The winners will be announced the last week of September, he says.

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