Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui showcases five finalists from first ever FinTech hackathon



See the original story in Japanese.

In October Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) held a demo-day for its first ever the Mirai Hackathon event. The five finalists took the stage giving presentations in front of judges, bank employees, and representatives from the affiliate companies of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG, TSE:8136).

For this hackathon SMBC made 27 sample APIs available for use in the creation of the team’s PoCs and began accepting applications from July 22nd. About 30 teams entered, with an explanation about API on September 3rd, followed by the hackathon, as well as mentoring, on September 17th, with 5 teams remaining as finalists in the end. The judges that participated in the demo-day were also responsible for mentoring the finalists.

The following is a list of the participating judges:

  • Hironobu Azuma (General Manager of Convergence Strategy Cluster / Research & Consulting Division, The Japan Research Institute)
  • Keisuke Tatsuoka (Partner, Global Brain)
  • Yusuke Murata (General Partner, Incubate Fund)
  • Masaru Yoshioka (Senior Executive Officer, Management Department of Strategic Business, Innovation Partners Division, GMO Payment Gateway)
  • Hiroyuki Koike (Operating Officer, Digital Innovation Business, IBM Japan)
  • Kentaro Sakakibara (CEO, Samurai Incubate)
  • Jun Ota (Senior Managing Executive Director, Transaction Business Division, SMBC)
  • Shinichi Mukai (Division Chief, Transaction Business Division, SMBC)
  • Tomoaki Nakayama (General manager, IT Innovation Department, SMBC)


Each team’s ideas were evaluated and reviewed based on six elements: cooperation with various industries (originality), need, viability, feasibility, enthusiasm, and product. Furthermore, the winner of this hackathon is invited to the “Mirai 2017” pitch competition jointly by SMBC and The Japan Research Institute, which will take place on December 20th.

First Prize winner: Grow up care system, nursing care facility office support service by Glory

Supplemental Prize: “Mirai Hackathon” Original VISA Prepaid card for 100,000 yen (about $1000 US), Participation rights for the Mirai 2017 pitch competition


In long-term care facilities, when care receivers need to use money such as for shopping, there are measures for managing money received from their family members, but the paperwork is complicated and money troubles unceasing.

In order to solve such problems, Glory developed a service that provides facial recognition-based login, electric seal verification, simple mobile input, in combination with notification of transaction deals for families. All together, it forms a service that eradicates the financial trouble between long-term care facilities and their residents (care receivers) by solving the complicated petty cash payments on the facilities’ side.

The care facilities do not take over the bank books or personal seals from their resident’s families, but through enhanced security they can manage withdrawals, while allowing the family to monitor these activities in real time. For the elderly who cannot judge for themselves, by leveraging the adult guardianship system, it becomes possible to have an even more flexible operation.


Best Quality award winner: MANA (Meta Automatic New Addition), adding meta-info to payment/reception details by Money Forward

Supplemental Prize: Mirai Hackathon Original Visa Prepaid Card for 25,000 yen (about $250 US), Rights to an exhibition booth at the Mirai 2017 event


Within a company, information concerning payments to suppliers is tied to the context, however context is lost when it becomes deposit and withdrawal information for financial institutions. For this reason, understanding what the deposits and withdrawals were intended for from the bank statements and then erasing it becomes cumbersome.

By imparting meta-information (transaction content) onto deposit and withdrawal information with Mana, it improves the convenience of transactions between companies, and solves the problem of erasing the payment details. Through the use of Mana users on both the billing and payment sides can share this meta-information among other details, and even if the other party is not a Mana user it is possible to generate a billing invoice on the platform. From the claims side users can ascertain their accounts receivable balances and scheduled payment amounts. On the payment side, the billing and transfer activities can be directly connected, thus reducing the amount of tasks. And so, merits such as understanding the planned withdrawal amount and balance after withdrawals are born.

It is possible to imagine that the affinity between demographics like companies that are not using EDI or are not categorized as large, along with small and medium-sized companies who use Money Forward’s signature service MF Cloud, would be high. The judges expressed the opinion that rather than providing this as a stand-alone service, it would be more convenient on the banking side to integrate it into their online banking system.



High Growth award winner: Tipping tool for onilne content creators by Bugnitude

Supplemental Prize: Mirai Hackathon Original Visa Prepaid Card for 25,000 yen (about $250 US), Rights to an exhibition booth at the Mirai 2017 event

1st-mirai-hackathon-demoday-winner-bugnitudeWhen the content found on blogs or online video sites is useful or interesting, users of this service can press the “Like” button to show appreciation in the form of money. While this service could be termed the modern day “tipping”, it can also be used to support donations for offline events, such as fireworks displays put on by volunteers. Also, in the period before any given content’s evaluation rises due to many users pressing the button, the team came up with a way to motivate users by awarding reward points to users who press the button before others.

The judges pointed out the similarities to Japanese social tipping platform Grow!, which launched in 2012 and has since shutdown. Since there was no bank supported API during the time of Grow!, it may be possible to produce a different user experience, and the judges advised them that it is vital to decide how and which media they will partner with in expanding their service.


API Award winner: Furikome Now!, an instant way to collect payments when eating out with friends by Team Gap (tentative)

Supplemental Prize: Mirai Hackathon Original Visa Prepaid Card for 25,000 yen (about $250 US), Rights to an exhibition booth at the Mirai 2017 event


Before or after occasions, such as drinking parties, when you want to split the bill, “Furikome! Now” is a platform that makes it possible to intuitively recognize the context of payment details, thus making simple and secure payment collection possible between individuals. For example, if the person responsible for collecting the payments knows only the e-mail addresses of attendees it is possible to prompt them to transfer their payments, making it unnecessary to install an app or prepare dedicated devices. For payments, it is possible to determine the context of payment details based on attached photos (for example, based on the fact that the photos are from a drinking party, the bill should be split to reflect this) and it is also not required for the money collector to input details such as account numbers, etc.

One interesting feature was in the case that the money transfer does not occur within the fixed period of time, attendees would be automatically reminded by telephone, which is possible through the use of Twilio. Secondarily, Team Gap believes from trend data related to user’s transfers, artificial intelligence could analyze the emotions and conditions of users at the time of their transfers making it possible to propose measures to improve the recovery rate.

Although they obtained a lukewarm evaluation based on the convenience of the features, because there was the hint of the possibility of remittance fraud, the judges advised them to seek continuous improvement in their design and naming.



Enthusiasm Award winner: Herukan, a platform that helps companies gain productivity by offering mental healthcare for employees, by Bluetech

Supplemental Prize: Mirai Hackathon Original Visa Prepaid Card for 25,000 yen (about $250 US), Rights to an exhibition booth at the Mirai 2017 event


Herukan is an app for employees of companies concerning the management of health services and the promotion of them. In order for users to maintain their motivation, it awards credit card points for goals achieved, and imposes penalties for missed goals. It goes further than the iPhone’s HealthKit by adding a unique workout feature that calculates rewards and penalties based on users’ measurements.

The cost is 4,980 yen per employee and fronted by the company, of which 3,100 yen per month is deposited and used in features such as point refund for target achievers. While the judges pointed out that this price may be too high, it was decided upon after referencing non-obligatory welfare costs, and the team believes it is within a reasonable price range.

Upon doing a big data analysis of the collected data, it could be sold to insurance companies, sports manufacturers, beverage manufacturers, and so on. In addition, in response to user trends on the app they could post reward advertisements, allowing them to further monetize.



At the doorstep interview following the conclusion of the presentations from the five teams, Koichi Iguchi, IT Innovation Department’s Deputy Director at SMBC, commented:

From the perspective of a banker, they brought a lot of ideas that were not easy to come up with, so it became a great learning opportunity for us.

All the APIs used during the hackathon event were provided on a sample basis to participating teams, but to connect this to actual business there will be a need to develop formal APIs. For SMBC, while advancing the open innovation together with fintech startups, it became a great opportunity for answering questions like what kinds of APIs are required, what kinds of business models are possible, and what kinds of security problems will present themselves.

At this event, both SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Card respectively provided API samples related to banks and credit cards. In the future, there is a possibility that other business corporations concerned with separate industries and operating under the umbrella of SMFG will become involved in similar activities.

1st-mirai-hackathon-demoday-judges-and-presenterIn terms of movements made by Japanese financial institutions for open innovation, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) has started running a fintech-focused  accelerator, among others, Mizuho Bank is collaborating with NTT Data in support of open innovation, Japanese credit company Credit Saison (TSE:8253) opened DG Lab with Digital Garage (TSE:4819), while credit card giant JCB has announced the start of their accelerator program JCB Payment Lab.

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Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda