We got together to create a solution for never carrying cash.

While walking down the street after lunch, two of my colleagues were approached by someone who needed a few spare dollars. They only had credit cards on them. So they couldn’t help.

But this sparked a conversation about how we live in a cashless society. How standard transactions are becoming digitized by virtual wallets and technology-driven payment solutions. And, how this might be impacting the service industry that lives off cash tips: baristas, valets, delivery drivers. How do we help? Enter Centric’s 2016 Hackathon project: OpenAlms.

Creating Technology Solutions

Centric Hackathon 2016In an effort to solve this cashless society dilemma, Centric technologists and analysts from Cincinnati, Miami, Boston, National, and Shared Services joined folks in Columbus to spend the weekend, which kicked off on Friday, June 3, coding a solution.

Our focus was on designing OpenAlms: an application to provide a safe, effective way for a person – without cash – to give money to someone in need. Given that our goal was to make it possible to donate to someone on the street, we had a lot to factors to consider. As the Hackathon Team started to brainstorm conceptual functionality of this product, we had to consider:

  • Available Technology
  • Practicality
  • Potential Barriers
  • How to Build

We were in luck! Our team had the perfect combination of skills to develop OpenAlms, a primarily mobile application that leverages beacon technology to allow registered users, called Givers, to make safe, convenient cashless donations to a registered recipient.

For the exchange to occur, Recipients must register to receive an OpenAlms credit card. Recipients can do this by signing up through a community partner such as a homeless shelter or food bank. The Recipient’s information is stored and assigned to a beacon within the credit card. This credit card can only be used for specific transactions – and the transaction history can be monitored by an administrator. Think of it like an EBT credit card, or food stamps.

Coding and Implementing New Technology

As we began coding this application over the weekend, we made sure to keep in mind the following: safety, convenience, and the best solution for implementation. We developed several methods to ensure the safety of the Giver, the security of the transaction, and the prevention of misuse by recipients.

One thing’s for sure: The solution architecture for this technology is sound and viable. We were able to demo a successful donation from a Giver to a Recipient and track the activity in our database. However, we recognized that there are several functional considerations we need to explore before successfully implementing the full solution. We have ideas for this too.

Centric Hackathon_2016Not only is the solution exciting and unique, but we had a great time working as a team to develop it. We came together with our own unique skills to cross train, learn on the fly, and act with all-hands-on-deck attitude to deliver our end result. And we had a TON of fun in the process!

My colleague, Erynn Truex, a CS&D Analyst with Shared Services said it best:

“The Hackathon provided a venue in which everyone met new people, worked together to create or experience something new, and learned. We all came away knowing a little more about our work, but most importantly, about our colleagues. Some of us learned from heavyweights at the company, some of us learned from simple questions asked by peers, and some of us learned that the best solution often comes after a good night’s rest.”

About Centric Hackathon

Based on feedback from Centric’s Camp IO/Hackathon combination event last summer, the Hackathon received its own dedicated weekend. Participants were very receptive to this change and are looking forward to more.