They came ready and they conquered after over 30 hours spent huddled in front of laptops and flipcharts.

The MasterCard NXT Challenge, held this past weekend, marked MasterCard’s first-ever foray into what is known in the startup community as a “hackathon.” The two-day event celebrated MasterCard’s 40 years in Canada by partnering with MaRS to plan and host this first mobile payment network challenge.

Keeping with the theme of innovation and pushing oneself, the challenge kicked off with an awesome keynote address from successful entrepreneur Brian Wong, who flew in from San Francisco for the event. Brian is the CEO and founder of Kiip, a mobile app rewards platform that allows brands and companies to give real-world rewards for in-game achievements.

Betty K. DeVita, CEO, MasterCard Canada, and Brian Wong
Betty K. DeVita, CEO, MasterCard Canada, and Brian Wong

Brian, being under the age of 25, really connected with the student-age participants, offering them some great advice. Furthermore, a Girls Learning Code workshop was also held at MaRS that day, so girls aged eight to 13 also came down to listen to Brian speak and to check out some actual coders doing what they do best.

The prizes

Twenty teams competed for two prizes of $10,000, one in the professional app developer category and one in the student category. But it’s not over! You can vote for your favourite of five finalists for their chance to win the $10,000 CIBC People’s Choice Award. Voting ends at the end of this month and you can only vote once, so make it count!

The finalists

The five finalists are (learn more about each team here):

Student category 

  • The Coyotes
  • PayMint

Professional category

  • YesTap
  • Space Bears
  • Adjoining Dipsticks

Two teams walked away with $10,000 prizes at the event itself.

Finalists at MasterCard N>XT
Finalists at MasterCard NXT

Student category: PayMint is a new, wireless Bluetooth 4.0-enabled, proximity-based mobile payment system. Using the app and MasterCard’s APIs, merchants can broadcast charges to shoppers and those shoppers can send their payments instantly. The team of four includes a Next 36 alumni and former employees of Xtreme Labs and Google.

The app’s simple user interface allows you to type in a charge amount on the merchant side, which then appears on the customer’s device. It also allows up to 20 concurrent payments at the same time, making it perfect for large events like sporting games.

Professional category: Adjoining Dipsticks began their pitch with a Jack Dorsey quote: “When payments are done correctly, they disappear.” Their app Movie Tickles enhances the theatre experience by not only simplifying the payment process, but also by enabling in-seat food and drink ordering for moviegoers, as well as seat selection.

Winners at MasterCard N>XT
Winners in the student and professional categories at MasterCard NXT

Overall, the challenge was a huge success and many participants chose innovation over sleep, coding through the night. The results were amazing. The atmosphere was energetic throughout both days: the DJ was spinning peppy tunes, the candy and healthy snack bar kept everyone fuelled and the participants loved all the swag.

Congrats to all of the participating teams, MasterCard and the event sponsors. Now, don’t forget to vote for your favourite team!

Jennifer Marron

Jennifer Marron was the Manager, Marketing and Channel Development for MaRS. See more…