Students collaborate with industry partners to solve FinTech challenges as part of MEFTI 2021

For the fourth time, MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node hosted their annual fintech entrepreneurship program, called MIT Entrepreneurship and Fintech Integrator (MEFTI). This program is a week-long fully immersive start-up bootcamp uniquely designed for students from MIT and Hong Kong universities to work alongside industry partners to solve industry-driven challenges. MEFTI partners this year included the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, DBS Bank, and WeBank, where professionals provided insights into their business needs and helped students connect theory into practice.

Due to Covid-19, this program was made hybrid for the first time, where 5 MIT students participated remotely and 17 Hong Kong students participated in-person. This was achieved by coordinating task hand-offs, aligning roles and responsibilities that suit progress to the respective geographies, and developing strong communication channels within the team. One member from each team served as the team yoda to ensure positive team dynamics and collaboration with the hybrid approach.

The learning curve wasn’t easy but my teammates across HK, Europe and US were very supportive and we managed to optimize our productivity across time zones,” says Andy Wong, a MIT student pursuing his MBA degree from Sloan School of Management.

With this format, MEFTI gave students the opportunity to develop critical skills reflective of the real-world workplace, a sense of how remote and international collaboration works, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Wong added, “What surprised me the most from MEFTI was the entrepreneurship spirit around me.”

Representatives from WeBank guide students through an industry challenge during MEFTI

After spending countless hours on ideation, researching, prototyping, iterating, and coming up with the final solution, it was time for Showcase Day where teams pitch their solutions in the form of business plans and wireframes. Four teams presented in hybrid mode – offline in-person and online over zoom to a panel of judges. The ideas included: a financing solution for online gamers; an incentive-driven customer journey to reap benefits of open API; and a digital platform connecting customers to an online community for equities trading.

Brit Blakeney, Executive Director of innovation and ecosystems at DBS Bank commended the teams, “They were all amazing, really great ideas, and I think some of the business challenges that we gave you were really challenging as well.”

Juni Yan, Managing Director of WeBank’s international fintech business, followed on with encouraging remarks, “I can visualize a lot of hard work, energy, days and nights that you put in there.” Yan added, “To be honest, very amazing presentations today, with lots of creativity and new ideas.”