Innovation marathon: smart thinking in Budapest

Bestselling author and bank futurist Brett King is star guest at an ideas competition in the Hungarian capital, where teams from startups, universities and colleges will compete to develop new banking applications for smart devices. Chris Price hears King’s advice

Chris Price


It will be fast, inventive and futuristic.  

CIB Bank, a subsidiary of the Intesa Sanpaolo group, is organising a 24-hour innovation marathon in Budapest to develop banking applications for smart devices. Called Novathon #withCIB (, the event takes place on 25-26 June.


Teams from startups, universities and colleges will be competing to create, design and build exciting new concepts – with the winners sharing prize money together worth 4.5 million Hungarian forint (£11,150).


Star guest will be industry disruptor and bank futurist Brett King. The bestselling author of Bank 2.0, Branch Today, Gone Tomorrow, Bank 3.0 and Breaking Banks, he will talk about some of the latest technological developments set to transform the world of banking – and much more – over the coming years.

“Over the next 15-20 years, every aspect of the way we live our daily lives is set to change”, said King in a recent interview.

The Australian writer, whose latest book Augmented is Amazon’s number one bestseller in a number of categories including robotics, artificial intelligence, economics and banking, reckons that technology is already transforming the way we manage our day-to-day finances.

“The core message is that [online] banking is already starting to become embedded in our lives”, says King. “Once you had to go to a physical place to see a banker, but today you don’t need to do that”.

Soon, he predicts, you will be able to ask your phone using Siri or other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) software to book a flight, a restaurant or buy goods and services. The smart device will then automatically make payment using the bank account you have chosen.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, huge amounts of data can be processed far faster than humans could ever manage, claims King. What’s more, devices with AI, such as mobile phones, will be able to learn your behaviour and when, for example, you are about to make a purchasing decision.

“They’ll know you better than a human ever could because this AI will be plugged into you through a number of different sensors and will be able to capture what you are doing and how you respond to situations”.

Instead of a plastic card, King believes that using our mobiles for credit will be commonplace. However, he reckons that pretty soon even that concept will be outdated.

“We’ll use augmented reality head-up displays or we’ll have that capability embedded in a smart home via voice activation”, he says.

So what advice would King give to the teams taking part in the Intesa Sanpaolo/CIB Bank ‘innovation marathon’ in Hungary who are looking for inspiration?


As well as following the best fintech experts around the world, he suggests tuning in to his Breaking Banks radio show ( where special guests from different fintech areas – from insurance to marketing – talk about the latest technological developments in their area.


Competitors taking part in the event should also identify some of the problems people currently have with banking and set about finding ways to solve them.


“What every fintech company has in common is that they are trying to get rid of friction. They are trying to make it easier for customers”, says King.

“A great example of this is Uber and how it redesigned the journey. They didn’t start by redesigning taxis or thinking about how to make a better driver. What they did was redesign the entire journey experience from the moment you order the vehicle to the moment you pay for the trip”.

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