From the fourth pension pillar, to the use of the first Croatian green currency, to Tinder for investors, and the winning idea of ​​applying biometric technology as insurance against deepfakes, the creative students presented an array of fantastic fintech solutions at the first Money Motion Student Hackathon at the Algebra University on the 9th and 10th March.

The victory was won by the Cookie Monsters Team, whose members Martin Majerić, Dino Pećarina and Margareta Zeko devised a biometric technology solution applicable to wrist-worn devices such as watches or smart bracelets, serving as means of identification when entering mobile banking apps and other financial digital channels that require additional user authentication, which can serve as the first line of defense against deepfake technology. Members of the winning team won a 3,000 euros cash prize: “We signed up for the competition because it seemed like a great opportunity to learn something new and develop a really interesting idea that might one day be implemented. We decided to take on this particular challenge because it is an area where we can bring the most innovation to the table, and it seems we made the right choice. People still don’t realize the extent of the problem concerning deepfake. Globally, the demand for and use of deepfakes is growing by 400% each year, and the technology is developing particularly quickly in the financial industry”, highlighted Cookie Monster teammate Margareta Zeko.

The best project was decided on by a jury of experts consisting of impressive individuals:

  • Ivana Vukov, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia,
  • Renata Brkić, Managing Partner at Feelsgood Capital,
  • Ivan Šimić, Senior Manager at PwC SEE Consulting,
  • Marijana Bačić, Member of the Managing Board and CEO for Business Users at Croatian Telecom Inc.
  • Gordan Kožulj, Business Consulting Director at Deloitte Croatia,
  • Goran Kralj, Member of the Board of PBZ Croatia Osiguranje,
  • Robert Penezić, Director of Monri Group,
  • Matija Čukman, Executive Director of the Sector of Digital Channels at Hrvatska poštanska banka,
  • Mislav Ante Omazić, professor at the Faculty of Economics & Business, University of Zagreb,
  • Zvonimir Oreč, CFO and Member of the Managing Board of Amodo,
  • Relja Marković, Executive Director for Digital Transformation at Addiko Bank, and
  • Hrvoje Balen, Member of the Algebra Group Managing Board.

“Competitions such as this one are aimed at strengthening the relationship between education and the labor market, showing our students how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset while still in college. In today’s age of rapid changes, it is young people who are the source of information and new knowledge about digital technologies, and at the same time its biggest consumers, therefore, this way we encourage them to apply this knowledge in a useful way. It was an honor to be a jury member and participate in deciding on all the inspiring ideas that we have had the opportunity to see today, and I am sure that many of them will very quickly develop into successful entrepreneurial stories”, said Hrvoje Josip Balen, a member of the Algebra Group Managing Board.

The teams were mentored by Algebra’s experts: “I am extremely pleased to see the students so enthusiastically approach the demanding challenges before them, and with utmost courage and professionalism. We tried to support them on this path and guide them in developing their ideas in the direction of innovation, but also market sustainability, since this is a vital aspect in business processes. Algebra LAB was conceived precisely as a bridge between science and entrepreneurship, a collaborative ecosystem in which many successful business ideas and start-ups have developed, while today’s hackathon competition maintains the liveliness of cooperation between students and entrepreneurs”, said Maja Brkljačić, PhD, Head of Algebra LAB.

All those who entered today’s competition may consider themselves winners, since almost all of the teams won some points, which means they managed to impress the experts on the jury, concludes Mislav Ante Omazić, PhD, professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business. As the initiator of this hackathon, he reflected on the importance of student competitions in innovation: “Communication between different professions is extremely important and so is teamwork, since the problems of the modern world are extremely complex and cannot be solved by a single individual, especially given the complexity of today’s competences. It is preferable to have varied ones. Many young people will get into working in teams at the start of their careers, however, a group and a team are not the same thing, and it is necessary to invest a lot of effort in developing collaborative skills. This type of competition pushes people out of their comfort zones, in which learning and progress are limited, so it is important to get out of them and go through the zone of fear, whereas these sort of events make this possible.”

“There is nothing more useful than encouraging young people to think in the context of entrepreneurial ideas. They have little exposure to this in school, which is why higher colleges that encourage this, such as Algebra, are actually the perfect way to guide them in the direction of their further professional development. I personally got involved as a jury member on this project because I want to be a part of successful entrepreneurial stories in Croatia, and Algebra certainly is one of them”, said Gordan Kožulj, Business Consulting Director at Deloitte.

“Today we heard an array of interesting ideas, and as a jury member I tried to bear in mind that an idea should be not only relevant, but also ambitious, since thinking outside the box and looking at things from a different angle should always be rewarded. The students are amazing and I believe they will be successful on the labor market as well. Young people need to be told that they should always believe in themselves and shouldn’t be afraid to innovate. Everything can be tweaked and improved, and those who are persistent are guaranteed to succeed”, said Ivana Vukov, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia.

“The students demonstrated enviable knowledge and sound preparation, the number of topics and innovations was great and I want to congratulate everyone once again on their courage to participate. Amodo is a company active in the field of fintech and it is an integral part of our DNA”, said Zvonimir Oreč, CFO and Member of the Managing Board of Amodo.

“It was an honor to participate in this sort of competition, I am pleased to see young people with so many creative ideas, and I hope we will organize more similar events in the future”, concluded Robert Perezić, General Manager at Monri.

The competition was intended for students interested in learning how digital technologies are revolutionizing the financial industry and who are ready to demonstrate their knowledge in the field of application of new information technologies, fintech, artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain and other innovations in existing financial industry systems.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the project, the jury members who took part in the competition and supported the young talents in the field of fintech, the Money Motion Conference Organizing Committee and the Faculty of Economics and Business of the University of Zagreb as co-organizers, Hrvatska poštanska banka d. d. as the project sponsor, and, of course, a warm applause for all the contestants!