PayPal, a global leader in mobile payments, sponsors hackathons around the world inviting developers to find new stuff to pay for. The PayPal Battle Hack series, launched in May last year drew over 2,000 competitors globally.
Talking City, a group based in Moscow, developed an app to assist visually impaired shoppers in finding their way around a grocery store using PayPal’s Beacon. Once installed in a store, it send out a Bluetooth low energy signal to anyone who has a smartphone turned on with the PayPal app installed. With the Talking City tool, it can provide verbal messages telling shoppers where they can find specific items in a grocery store, for instance.
Certain national stereotypes appear in the apps. A group from Berlin developed a way to book and pay for a home cleaning services by building on PayPal’s iOS SDK, while a London group developed CandlePath, which uses data available on street lights to plot the safest route home at night and can even alert designated contacts if you deviate from the path. Can anyone spell P-U-B?
In Washington, D.C. where it is hard to walk a full city block without coming across someone shaking a cup looking for a quarter, PhilanthroFeed lets homeless people create a profile with a social worker or anyone else with internet access. When a passerby wants to donate, they can find the person’s profile and donate a credit to their account which can be redeemed for a meal at a participating restaurant.
For those socially active residents filling coffee shops and craft beer bars in Seattle, Pay Forward uses optical character recognition to find the dollar sign on a receipt and then split the bill, or send messages to friends about the amount owed. It can also round up to the nearest ten cents and send the extra amount to a charity. Tel Aviv apparently has a more demanding approach to friendships. LateBet lets users set meetings with friends through social networks and fines the latecomer $1 a minute, transferred through PayPal to the one who arrived on time.
To counter the shortage of ATMs in Miami, Team Yellow Pepper directs consumers to places where they can withdraw small amounts of cash from merchants for $1 per transaction.
In Austen, the local prize was for PayPup that helps match potential owners with dogs at Austen Pets Alive. It lists all the dogs available and lets users donate payments for specific medical expenses such as vaccinations.
In New York, Brian Kehrer and Yosun Chang of team DeadDropAR won for their application that puts PayPal payments in both physical and artificial reality locations with virtual dead drops. The application allows a user or a business to leave money (virtually) in any location for someone to find using a mobile phone or Google Glass. The user needs to go to the location and identify the item to which the money is attached in order to pick it up. The app uses cutting edge augmented reality technology as well as PayPal to transfer the money. The judges were impressed by the implementation of so many technologies in just under 24 hours.
The 2013 World Finals winners, from Moscow, created an app called DonateNow, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology and PayPal to allow anyone to instantly donate to a cause in the moment without filling in lengthy forms right from their mobile devices.
The city winners are flown to the final contest in Silicon Valley where the prize is $100,000 plus a Viking battle axe. The 2014 24-hr hackathons begin with Tel Aviv in early February and end with London in October. The top developer teams from each city get a chance to compete with other global developers in PayPal’s Battle Hack World Finals in San Jose in November to win a grand prize of $100,000. Plus the axe, of course.