The Citizens Challenge


In its ongoing effort to accelerate innovation, Citizens Bank decided to organize an external hackathon.

One of the largest regional banks in the US, Citizens Bank invited startups and fintech developers to participate in a weekend of brainstorming and software creation. Their objectives were primarily to drive innovation, acquire fresh ideas and solutions to current challenges, to establish partnerships with fintechs and to enhance better customer experience through the use of Open Banking APIs.

How TESOBE Helped

After a successful deployment of an Open Bank Project sandbox at Citizens Bank, the bank approached us to explore how to leverage the sandbox and how to encourage developers to use it. TESOBE worked closely with the bank teams to deploy a comprehensive fintech engagement programme consisting of the following steps:

  1. Co-creation of the challenges: TESOBE worked closely with the bank’s business teams to align the event with business priorities and co-create relevant use cases and problem statements for the event. The challenges ranged from AI and digital engagement to social banking.
  2. Promotion of the event: TESOBE handled event organisation and promotion from end to end, including prizes and promotion arrangement, launching a dedicated website and scouting relevant participants.
  3. Facilitation of the event: TESOBE moderated the event onsite and delivered the event program according to the hackathon schedule. Moreover, the TESOBE team included business mentors, IT & UX as well as a dedicated pitch trainer to help the teams hone their message.
  4. Planning the future: After the hackathon, TESOBE delivered a workshop to share insights such as API usage and participants’ feedback, lessons learned, and to plan next steps.


In parallel to this effort, TESOBE provided the bank with a client-branded banking data sandbox (including 160 API endpoints, localised test data, a developer portal and 12 months of commercial support) which was available for use by developers before the hackathon took place



A weekend-long event, the hackathon brought together developers, UX designers and business innovators to investigate new ideas using Open Banking APIs.

Of the 16 participating teams, some focused on corporate use cases, such as a predictive system for cash flow forecasting, while others offered solutions for consumers including monitoring the progress of spending and convenient access to micro-loans based on monthly spending.

At the end of the weekend, senior executives from Citizen’s Bank, PwC and Infosys formed a jury which saw all teams demo their applications. The jury selected 3 winners.




By conducting an external fintech hackathon, not only did Citizens Bank access innovative ideas and build privileged relationships with potential partners, but it also managed to experiment with APIs and build momentum for a successful Open Banking initiative.

Hackathons are indeed a powerful tool to rapidly and securely kick-off an Open Banking journey for banks who are willing to truly innovate and enhance their customer offering.


Technology is changing, the business and banking environments are changing – and our customers are continually expecting new and better ways to interact with banking services. During the course of the weekend we saw a lot of fresh ideas, new approaches, innovative products, things we haven’t thought about, that will help our customers reach their potential. We are very thankful to all the participants and to Open Bank Project for their assistance in bringing the Hackathon to life. We are looking forward to strengthening our collaboration and are very excited to see how new partnerships like this can reinforce the innovation culture we’re building in the bank.

Frederic Chanfrau

Frederic Chanfrau

EVP and CIO of Technology at Citizens Bank


We are very privileged to work closely with Citizens Bank and to accompany them on their Open Banking journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the hackathon and am very much looking forward to furthering our collaboration and seeing some of products coming to life.

Simon Redfern

Simon Redfern

CEO of TESOBE and Founder of the Open Bank Project


For more information on the Open Bank Project or to organise a hackathon, talk to us at: | @OpenBankProject |

+49 (0)30 8145 3994

About TESOBE and the Open Bank Project

TESOBE GmbH is an independent company founded in Germany that assists banks in executing effective API strategies. The Open Bank Project started life in 2010 with the vision of enabling all banks to benefit from open innovation, open APIs, and wider access to fintech startups. It quickly scaled into the leading open-source API solution for financial institutions, spanning over 500 banking-specific APIs supported by 11,000 fintech developers worldwide with over 100 global banking customers.

About Citizens Financial Group

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $153.5 billion in assets as of March 31, 2018. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle- market companies, large corporations and institutions.