Ops Engineering Hackathon 2018

Chatham | January

Ops Engineering Hackathon 2018

At the end of last year, the Digital team hosted a two day hackathon at the University of Kent, to get out the office, get creative and explore innovative opportunities for future development.

Organised by our very own Associate Software Engineers, Suthathip and Claude, here's their blog all about what happened at the event...

What is a Hackathon?
A hackathon is an event in which software programmers and people who are involved in the software development come together and ‘hack’ away at something; to collaboratively design, build and work on an innovative project.

Why are we doing it?
This is an opportunity for the Operations Engineering team to think outside of the box, to be creative and to learn new things. It is a team bonding activity where we challenge ourselves while also having fun creating something which we don’t normally do in our day to day lives.

It also provides a learning experience for everyone, where software engineers can learn new technologies that we wouldn’t normally use as part of the business. It allows the engineers to explore innovative opportunities for future development which can add value to the business. For those that has never worked in software development, it was an eye-opening experience to see how much work was needed to build a product from scratch to being a usable product.

What did we do?
We came up with a few innovative ideas and narrowed these down to 4 cool ideas for the hackathon (one idea for each team). The ideas and the teams are as follow:

1. Smart Watch
Building and Integrating a smart watch app (Android and iOS) to the current Vanquis mobile app and allowing customers to view their balance and transactions. As smart watches are becoming more popular, expanding Vanquis to another platform could enable us to reach more customers and improve our accessibilities.

The future plan of this is to enable Android pay and Apple pay with Vanquis cards to make payments using a smart watch.

2. Alexa
Enabling customers to connect Alexa to Vanquis by authenticating users and providing access to their account summary. The intention was for customers to be able to ask Alexa for their Vanquis balance where Alexa can then return the relevant information, as well as dynamically display the balance summary on devices with a screen (e.g. Amazon Echo Spot)

 “Alexa, ask Vanquis Bank, what’s the balance on my account?”.

“The balance on your Vanquis Bank account is £500”

The service can be further secured by asking customers to confirm their date of birth and Vanquis card number in order to verify who they are.

3. KYC with cognitive service integration
Using Azure cognitive services to integrate facial scan as part of the KYC (Know Your Customer) verification journey when registering to the Vanquis mobile app. Users can scan their face by taking a selfie via the app, which can then be used to compare with an ID picture from their passport or driving license etc. The service can identify a person’s characteristics such as gender and age, and distinguish from one person to another.

There are many potentials and possibilities with cognitive services. A speech and vocal scan could also be integrated to strengthen the verification process or using a vision cognitive service to extract information such as name and address from a scanned ID.

4. AR Core
Augmented Reality game (similar to Pokémon GO) where users can collect virtual items where the go’s are earned through positive actions in the mobile app. This is intended to improve engagement with the app and get customers to log in more frequently than they currently do. Certain actions will earn more go’s and some are repeatable with a cooldown timer (i.e. earn one go for logging in, limited to once per day).

Other possibilities include collecting groups of virtual items that are rewarded with a voucher when a set is completed, using the typical 3-in-a-set made up of 2 common items and 1 rare item. A rare item could be guaranteed when referring a friend. Using transaction history, it may also be possible to team up with merchants to promote customers by walking through virtual doors into real shops using geolocation where you might earn a free coffee.                                          

...The results!
Every team was the winning team! Alas, only one team could be crowned as the Operations Engineering Hackathon 2018 winner and claim the trophy. Using a collection of votes from people at the hackathon (including those who came for the presentation), everyone’s favorite team was


Team KYC!
The team worked on cutting-edge artificial intelligence with cognitive services and produced something that was truly fascinating and was just really cool! Their hard work certainly paid-off.

Wrapping up
At the end of the Hackathon, each team had a chance to showcase what they did and discussed the technical challenges that they faced. Not only did each team produce a meaningful, innovative solution that could provide values to Vanquis, everyone also picked up new skills and had lots of fun together.

Everyone worked very hard and contributed to their teams. The challenges allowed us to be imaginative, creative and think outside of the box, whilst also having customer’s best interests in mind. In conclusion, the Hackathon was very successful and unforgettable.


Blog by Suthathip Kaewsamsee and Claude Gamboa

"Vanquis has seen incredible growth. The journey's been really exciting.”


"I’ve stayed with Vanquis for the career development.”