FNB Codefest: Ideation Day

FNB Codefest 2016 Kicks Off…. in Virtual Reality. Spring Day (and a solar eclipse!), ideation and Fintech were key themes of the full day session where innovators from across FirstRand talked about how they are disrupting their businesses.

[Watch further below: Our kick off for Day 0 Ideation was recorded in 360 degrees of three dimensional Virtual Reality – watch the video and join us even if you didn’t join us!]

In 3 weeks time the annual FNB CodeFest kicks off when over 200 developers convene on our Fairlands Campus to innovate and solve business problems with rapid prototyping.

Over a 48 hour hackathon they will apply newly acquired skills from 3 months of CodeFest masterclasses as they compete for big prizes.

Accelerating existing projects is also important, some IT teams simply relocate for the week of CodeFest; they know that the collaborative intense environment of CodeFest creates a multiplier effect for their projects.

This year we are also adding an Xfest / “share your cool stuff” exhibition of topics that will take place inside the venue at the same time.

On 1 st September, (Spring Day 2016) we gathered over 150 business leaders and innovators to present on over 30 topics that could be worked on at CodeFest.

FNB’s long standing partnership with government means improved processes for citizens such as applying for ID cards in our bank branches.

Some of the ideas presented at CodeFest could extend this to other areas and the e-government initiative is actively looking for innovative, digital solutions to remove friction from numerous government processes.

RMB’s recently launched Fintech accelerator Foundery was also on hand to present their plans for CodeFest which include three very exciting blockchain initiatives.

Read Blockchain, bitcoin and banking; how does it work and why it will change everything to find out more information.

“Possibility thinking” at The Foundery and how they are creating the banking ecosystem of the future.

Credit was a key theme during the afternoon sessions as the bank continues to look for ways to innovate credit processes; IT can really “move the needle” in this area, both internally and through customer touch points.

Our strategic IT suppliers were also on hand during the day to provide thought leadership, industry trends and useful solutions for our business problems.

The audience gained excellent insight from RedHat, Britehouse, Microsoft, Entelect and IBM on topics such as design thinking, software craftsmanship and enterprise architecture.

Alpha Code is an incubator in the FirstRand Group and also shared insights about the disruptive businesses that it is invested in.

Alphacode’s ecosystem of Fintech entrepreneurs explained

The bulk of Alpha Code’s members are in payments which reflects the interest in this area in the industry. Payments was also key on the agenda of Codefest Ideation Day with a number of innovations presented for developers and architects to work on.

“RegTech” is a relatively new concept and came up during the day; it refers to Regulatory Technology or IT innovations that help businesses manage security, compliance and related requirements.

From big data, to cyber security and digitised screening processes there is significant potential for businesses to harness the power of IT in solving these types of problems.

An excellent cyber security presentation during the day reminded us of the duty of care that exists in managing and innovating a bank’s infrastructure.

Secure coding is a discipline that should start right at the prototyping stage, not only when projects are more matured and extra controls are required when new systems are launched.

Password management was highlighted as the biggest weakness for system administrators trying to protect an estate and to illustrate his point the speaker actually hacked into a number of attendees’ user accounts on the event app that we had purpose built for the day.

It was a stark reminder for all of us that got hacked (including myself) that “RegTech” starts with ourselves.

The role that RegTech will play in the financial services industry


FNB has successfully developed ecosystems of value-adds, rewards and innovative solutions around our individual and business customers.

eBucks, fuel cash back, Instant Accounting, smart device financing and cell phone services are good examples of disruptive thinking that continues to drive FNB’s innovative agenda forward.

“Innovation in FNB is all about helping customers navigate through life, give them control over their financial journey and achieve success to get where they are going”

Travel, property, children, vehicles and especially financial fitness are life factors for which mobile solutions can help customers and grow their wealth in their journey through life.

Various teams presented prototypes on some of these topics that they want to build; CodeFest presents opportunities for collaboration and integration.

There is a renewed focus on customer centric design in software and technology that is already revolutionising business models from accommodation to transport.

Banking is no different and the next decade of innovation will see a race for the customer, both to drive improved sales and service but also to defend against new entrants who are more agile and customer-minded in their entire business model.

FNB’s “helpful” brand proposition has always been rooted in our customer’s needs but ensuring we build on this and drive even greater customer focus is a key drive for our objectives in 2025.

This team presented their prototyping plans and the benefits they hope to achieve from the innovative and collaborative environment of CodeFest.

Fintech offers numerous form factors that trigger new ways of thinking about old ways of doing business. One of these is virtual reality which is a computer generated simulation that a person can interact with and which is life-like and three dimensional.

People usually put on a headset or purpose built goggles to view the simulation which also makes them feel part of that virtual world and in some cases interact with it and perform certain actions.

At last year’s CodeFest we had the Occulus Rift virtual reality headset which one of the teams was experimenting with, at CodeFest ideation day we recorded the first session with a special camera and you can watch this in three dimensional, 360 degrees virtual reality; as if you were in the room with us!

Simply use a headset such as Google cardboard to view the video below in virtual reality mode, with an iphone or android device that has Google VR set up.

If you view in normal 2D mode you can also drag the video around in 360 degrees but putting on the VR headset and viewing in VR mode will give you the fully immersive experience!

Codefest 2016 also promises to be a fully immersive experience in three weeks time when our teams have finalised what they will work on.

We look forward to playing with virtual reality, prototyping on blockchain, innovating credit and disrupting many other areas of our business.

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