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BBVA’s amazing API challenge

I missed this competition at the end of last year but luckily caught BBVA presenting at the American Banker Retail Bank 2014 conference and was blown away.

BBVA gave away their data.

Yes, they created an API and gave it away for free.

Open source bank transaction data and then see what you can do with it.

First, some background.

The BBVA Innova Challenge opened for registrations from September 23rd to December 3rd 2013, and offered the challenge for developers to take aggregate BBVA transaction data – no names of customers or businesses were mentioned – covering all purchases during 2012 through to April 2013.


The data originated from Madrid and Barcelona and provided analysis of the demographics by age and gender of the customers.  The data is shown in an aggregated form by week, month and half year, as well as daily patterns of behaviour by hourly spend.

Finally, the information was categorised into buckets: travel, food, accommodation, bars, restaurants, sports, technology, home, fashion, leisure etc.

No information was provided about the amounts spent.

In total the API offered data for over 30 million transactions over 2 million cards used in over 200,000 stores.

I guess BBVA were just interested to see what people would do with it, and the results were fascinating:

  • 780 registered developers
  • 6.7 million calls to the API in just two months
  • 144 apps developed as a result from developers across 19 countries
  • €2.9 million of development time delivered (approx.)

Many of the developers combined the aggregated anonymous transaction data with social network data and the demographic records to make it more meaningful for example, and the winners were announced in December each receiving €15,000 for first place, €10,000 for second and €5,000 for third across three categories: consumer, corporate and web/visualisation apps.

Here are the results:

Consumer apps

The first prize went to the Qkly application, which helps users plan their time by estimating what time of day a given place will be most overcrowded. The application provides information on businesses, attractions or places based on the user's preferences and makes it possible to organize the visits so as to avoid lines. 

Mad4food, a web application with customized recommendations on coffee shops, bars and restaurants in Madrid, was awarded the second prize. This app suggests specific places for each user, based on a combination of information on people with a similar demographic profile, time patterns and opinions provided by users on other websites.

InnovaQuery came in third. This virtual assistant uses natural language technologies and enables users to query the app from multiple channels (web application, cell phone or even via Twitter). The solution answers questions such as “what do men buy in the Gran Vía area in Madrid?” with charts and heat maps. 

Apps for the corporate/public sector

Chances was the winner in the corporate category with an app designed for entrepreneurs that assesses a business's chance of success according to different variables. The app takes into account parameters such as the geographical location, the type of customer, seasonality and the busiest times of the day. 

Urbeo, which won the second prize, assesses the social and economic impact of functions, sporting competitions and shopping-related events on a city.

The third prize went to Shopping Centre Benchmarking, an application that enables the effectiveness of direct marketing strategies to be established, as well as to determine where the customers come from, while exploring ways of boosting market strategies.

Web or Visualization  

BBVAPlaces was chosen as the best data visualization app. This analysis, which takes data from Google Places recommendations, offers an overview of areas where establishments have the highest social ratings, helping to identify optimal areas for opening a business.

The second prize went to Quartz, an app that helps uncover hidden relationships between different factors of the data provided by BBVA and explore the information freely and from multiple viewpoints. 

Visualización de las compras con tarjeta de BBVA (Visualization of purchases with BBVA cards) was awarded the third prize. This app offers a general view of the Madrid Region's towns in order to analyse the location, volume, origin and destination of the purchases, as well as their trends and segmentation by gender and age in each of the areas examined. 

All these projects are available at the BBVA Innovation Centre website




About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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