Business

Erik Gibbs

High school team takes third at Barclays hackathon

“It’s so easy a child could do it.” Many fiat pundits have tried to argue that blockchain technology was so far advanced that it wasn’t possible to be understood by the majority of the population. Maybe they should talk to a group of high-schoolers out of the UK who have just taken won honors at a hackathon challenge led by Barclays bank and Clearmatics.

The students hail from Bedford School in a town of the same name. They took third place in the challenge, which was designed to use Clearmatics’ Ion protocol to allow two different blockchains to be able to share information and verify transactions. The teenagers had to go up against blockchain experts from banks such as Barclays and Santander, as well as compete against established companies such as Adhara and Web3j. 

If their success in the hackathon isn’t enough, it’s made even more poignant by the fact that the team, according to the head of computer science at Bedford, Dr. David Wild, didn’t know anything about enterprise blockchain technology two days before the event got underway. 

Wild took advantage of his experiences working with educational software to have the team consider a smart contract design that would be able to share exam results across different educational facilities, exam boards and even university admissions groups. The student grabbed on, creating a viable solution that was based on Ion. 

Wild added that one of the key components of the group’s success was the fact that they had no experience, allowing the students to see the problem with a fresh set of eyes. He stated, “If you are writing a piece of software say, you want somebody who is naive to use it because they tend to use it in the ways that you wouldn’t imagine.”

Bedford is about an hour and ten minutes away from London by rail. That’s important, since one of the students told CoinDesk following the event, “We learned quite a lot about Solidity and smart contracts on the train.”

There are a lot of moving parts to the blockchain – just like there are for any system. However, the rewards, such as greater efficiency, lower costs and immutable records, far outweigh any of the challenges to blockchain integration.

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