ATB is exploring the possibilities of open banking

A hackathon looks to find new ways to solve the bank's business challenges through access to data.

Alberta bank ATB Financial is planning a hackathon to help it find ways open access to financial data and its APIs could help solve challenges and contribute to personalized services for clients.

ATB’s “Open Finance Hackathon” is inviting software developers, fintech experts and designers to compete for $10,000 and help the bank find new ways to drive innovation, especially when it comes to the adoption of open data. Participating teams will complete their tasks through data that mimics core banking data, released through APIs from ATB.

Open banking and open finance are principles that would allow financial institutions to give third parties access to its data and APIs to help build tools and services to address the needs of its customers. Some banks that also do business in the U.S., such as TD, have been able to develop technologies that are built on open banking, and have thus been been vocal about Canada adopting policies that would allow them to bring them to customers in Canada as well (the federal government conducted a public consultation on open banking in early 2019, but has yet to release the results). Despite the possibilities, surveys suggest Canadians might be resistant to open banking due to privacy concerns around its use of financial data.

At its hackathon, ATB has highlighted a number of business challenges it believes open finance solutions could help it solve. Utilizing financial data, the bank is asking hackathon participants to do things like identify a person’s mental states to support actions towards healthier living, create a personalized experience for investments, inspire clients to contribute to sustainable environmental growth and develop solutions that incentivize pension savings in response to growing life spans.

Despite not having the same size as its national counterparts in banking, ATB has made a number of investments to make itself a leader in financial innovations with its Transformation division, including hackathons and other developer-focused events that have helped establish relationships with Alberta’s growing startup community. Last year, the bank brought 250 data scientists together for a competition to use datasets to solve problems facing the people of its home province, like mental wellness, improving agriculture yields and modeling customer behaviour to offer them personalized services.

Earlier this month, Denise Man, previously the bank’s SVP of digital, was named chief technology officer following the departure of Wellington Holbrook.