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Gen Z imagines innovative finance tools using virtual reality and 5G

Three University of Waterloo student teams win top prizes in latest Innovation Challenge

Banking with a virtual reality headset may not be as far-fetched as you might think after students from the University of Waterloo’s startup incubator Velocity wrapped up a two-week-long “hackathon”, an innovation challenge aimed at augmenting the future of finance with VR and high-speed wireless technology.

In Velocity’s Innovation Challenge: Imagining the Future of Finance, 54 students from a cross-section of Waterloo faculties spanned across 12 teams to create dynamic VR solutions to promote healthy financial habits like budgeting, saving and investing. Waterloo and Velocity partnered with the Bank of Montreal (BMO), Unity and Rogers Communications for the hackathon program. Dimension X provided access to Bonfire, their no-code immersive experience platform to further assist students in designing solutions.

“With support from industry partners, the Innovation Challenge: Imagining the Future of Finance was a great opportunity for students to solve a real-world problem using exciting technology,” said John Dick, director of Velocity Campus. “The broad participation across campus showed that any student can be an innovator, regardless of their academic background.”

Students build connections and skills

The three winning teams were VOffice from the faculties of Engineering and Mathematics, Finquest from the faculties of Mathematics and Arts and Fintopia from the faculties of Environment, Engineering and Mathematics. Their solutions ranged from online virtual office spaces and social hubs in the metaverse to interactive, gamified financial literacy training. They will receive support from BMO, Rogers and Unity, with BMO providing them with new investment accounts and initial deposits. The top two teams received 1-year access to Unity Pro licenses, and the first-place team received Meta Quest 2 headsets.

The teams worked alongside mentors from BMO, Rogers and Unity in workshops to incorporate financial planning, advanced connectivity, VR design and development in their solutions. Teams were judged based on their user experience, unique approach to VR and financial literacy as well as how well their solution could be used in a real-world setting with 5G technology.

Read the full story on Waterloo News.