Sponsored feature, Words by Fay Millar

What would you do with £15k?What would you do with £15,000? Would you use it to start your own business, put a deposit down on a property or maybe travel the world and experience new things?

Imagine though you were stuck in Cambodia or Peru and you needed that money urgently, perhaps for medical treatment or to pay for flights home. How could you get access to it? Would your parents be able to send it to you? Where and how exactly would you retrieve it if there wasn’t a bank there?

That’s the crux of the SWIFT Institute Challenge – develop a new way of sending and receiving money around the world, especially in countries where there is little or no banking infrastructure, or there are no banks with which the sending bank will correspond.

The student who comes up with the best idea will win £15,000 and the opportunity to present their idea at the Sibos conference in Geneva in September, the world’s largest financial services conference with over 7,000 delegates.

Not only will you have the chance to present a life-changing idea, and potentially see it turned into reality, but it could really launch your career in banking and tech by putting you in front of some of the most influential people in the finance industry.

Have you got what it takes?

You don’t have to be a banking whizz or a tech geek to give it a go. As long as you are a student at a registered university or learning establishment you are eligible to enter the challenge.

An interest in banking is pretty important but equally, so is an enthusiasm for devising new and cutting-edge ideas that could really make a difference. If the initial concept is strong, you will be given access to experts to help develop the idea further.

What you need to consider

Every day people send and receive money around the world but in some countries, this isn’t always easy or safe.

You need to devise a solution to this problem. It should be low-cost for the sender and free, or at the very least, cheap for the receiver. They should also be able to receive the money in multiple ways, depending on the country.

It should be efficient, safe and dependable for both parties as well as for the sending bank.

You also need to make sure the sending institution isn’t breaking the law of the countries involved – you don’t want to leave your new process open to the risk of fraud or money laundering by criminal gangs.

Finally, you need to make sure the solution works for people who don’t have a bank account either. The sender might have a bank account but the receiver needs the money in cold hard cash. Or it might be the other way around with the sender lacking a bank account but needs to pay cash into the receiver’s bank.

What you get out of it

The prize fund of £15,000 is an amount which could really change your life, particularly if you are studying and paying university fees. But that’s not all the SWIFT Institute challenge could lead to.

As part of the competition, the shortlisted entries will be given pitch training and invited to present their ideas in front of some leading financial experts at the SWIFT Business Forum in London. Not only does it give you the opportunity to have your idea heard by influential people but it gives you a chance to network with some pretty important industry leaders and will be a valuable addition to your CV.

The winner will receive the prize money and a chance to attend the Sibos conference in Geneva to present their idea. This is the largest financial services event in the world with around 7000 people attending.

Nancy Murphy, assistant director of the SWIFT Institute, says: “This is a life-changing experience and could be much bigger and further-reaching than a summer internship.

“It’s about recognising the potential of the Millenial generation because they are so bright and much more connected globally. They understand world issues and are able to think outside the barriers that exist in a corporate mindset.”

How to enter

You can enter via the online application form.

The top applicants will deliver a ten-minute pitch at the SWIFT Business Forum in London on 20th April 2016, and the winner will get tickets, flights and hotels for a week in Geneva at the Sibos Conference from 26-29th September 2016.

You have to be quick though, the closing date for entries is 25th March 2016.