In a world where finance is extremely important, everyone needs access to banking services. Citizens within third world countries are no exception, but they lack the banking technology infrastructure that many of us in first world countries take for granted. Mobile Applications and Web Portals don't work 100% for these people, so we decided to make software that requires nothing more than a cellular connection to send SMS messages in order to operate. This resulted in our hack, UBank.

What it does

UBank allows users to operate their bank accounts entirely through text messaging. Users can deposit money, transfer funds between accounts, transfer accounts to other users, and even purchases shares of stock via SMS. In addition to this text messaging capability, UBank also provides a web portal so that when our users gain access to a steady internet connection or PC, they can view their financial information on a more comprehensive level.

How I built it

We set up a backend HTTP server in Node.js to receive and fulfill requests. Twilio with ngrok was used to send and receive the text messages through a webhook on the backend Node.js server and applicant data was stored in firebase. The frontend was primarily built with HTML, CSS, and Javascript and HTTP requests were sent to the Node.js backend to receive applicant information and display it on the browser. We utilized Mozilla's speech to text library to incorporate speech commands and chart.js to display client data with intuitive graphs.

Challenges I ran into

  • Some team members were new to Node.js, and therefore working with some of the server coding was a little complicated. However, we were able to leverage the experience of other group members which allowed all of us to learn and figure out everything in the end.
  • Using Twilio was a challenge because no team members had previous experience with the technology. We had difficulties making it communicate with our backend Node.js server, but after a few hours of hard work we eventually figured it out.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We are proud of making a functioning, dynamic, finished product. It feels great to design software that is adaptable and begging for the next steps of development. We're also super proud that we made an attempt at tackling a problem that is having severe negative effects on people all around the world, and we hope that someday our product can make it to those people.

What I learned

This was our first using Twillio so we learned a lot about utilizing that software. Front-end team members also got to learn and practice their HTML/CSS/JS skills which were a great experience.

What's next for UBank

  • The next step for UBank probably would be implementing an authentication/anti-fraud system. Being a banking service, it's imperative that our customers' transactions are secure at all times, and we would be unable to launch without such a feature.
  • We hope to continue the development of UBank and gain some beta users so that we can test our product and incorporate customer feedback in order to improve our software before making an attempt at launching the service.

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