Every year, 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees, and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed to print receipts in the US alone. These receipts are then treated like trash, resulting in 1.5 billion tons of waste. It is clearly the time for an alternative to such archaic tool, one that digitizes a 134 year old system. We believe that Penny provides an opportunity to radically disrupt the retail and transaction industry, by allowing for a unified platform for storage of consumer purchases and activity. We were inspired to do so after realizing how much of an annoyance paper receipts were to customers, and how inefficient and wasteful they are to companies.

What it does

Penny doubles as an e-receipt platform as well as an expense tracker. While numerous personal finance apps are currently in the market, Penny allows stores to send digital receipts in which transactions are automatically recorded and saved for potential future use. The user is able to san their paper receipts, or import e-receipts via email, which allows them to financially benefit through Penny’s inferences based on customer activity. The user can finally not have to worry about storing and maintaining receipts for future use and indirectly benefits the environment by promoting the use of e-receipts overall.

How we built it

We used React Native, a mobile JavaScript framework used by large companies such as Facebook, to build the app. As it is cross-platform yet maintains native functionality and efficiency, the framework allowed us to skip the numerous complications of directly developing a mobile app using native languages (Swift, Java, etc.). Furthermore, the basics of the JavaScript language are quite commonly known and allowed for an open approach to the project, allowing our team, as beginners, to quickly learn the fundamentals.

Challenges we ran into

As amateurs in the programming industry, we faced numerous challenges in regards to the production of our app. Many features could not be implemented due to a lack of experience in the field. For example, while attempting to integrate navigation functionalities into our app, we found it difficult to understand the documentation and syntax. Though we conducted an immeasurable amount of research, our lack of experience and knowledge hindered our understanding of these new concepts.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Coming in with no prior experience in React-Native, we are proud of learning the fundamentals of the language and attempting to apply it in a socially beneficial manner. We continued to push all throughout the weekend, from start to finish, and ensured that we made the most out of this experience. All in all, we are proud that we were able to step outside our comfort zones and learn something new.

What we learned

Through this experience, we were able to take away the fundamentals of React-Native. We were always ambitious about walking away from the hackathon having built a semi-functional app at the least, however we greatly underestimated out abilities to program in a totally foreign language. Through our experiences, we learned that it is always best to take things slowly, one step at a time, and focus on what we can do in the moment. For future hackathons, we hope to come better prepared with some more experience in required programming languages. More practically, we learned how to use the terminal to set up and run projects, as well as how to build designs and layouts through JavaScript. We learned how to style these elements to improve the overall aesthetics of the project.

What's next for Penny

We believe that the idea behind Penny has tons of potential, and could certainly be beneficial to society. Next steps for Penny include continuing to work on it, adding features in our free time. Furthermore, Penny would definitely benefit from a partnership with retailers, promoting a switch to digital receipts. Penny currently serves as a gateway to a more technological industry, but holds the potential to become a disruptor.

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