This past weekend, the Trust Center buzzed with activity as it hosted the 2nd annual MIT FinTech Challenge, sponsored by Citi and Citi Ventures. Nearly 100 students formed 14 teams and competed over two days for $12,000 in cash prizes as they focused on solutions to this year’s topic, suggested by Citi: “How to Catch People Who Cheat the Stock Market.” The end goal was to identify creative technical solutions to current day business problems.

Held on February 22 & 23rd, the weekend challenge brings together industry thought leaders in financial technology to share insights with participating students. The format for the weekend allows for the sharing of knowledge through fireside chats and presentations, integrated with immediate application of the knowledge via team projects, all supplemented by one-on-one mentoring. The event illustrates how MIT and other students are advancing innovations in this area that can act as solutions for today’s modern economic and banking systems.

While the majority of students were from MIT, participants also came from other Boston-area schools, such as Harvard, Babson, and Boston University. Among MIT students who took part in the weekend challenge were all grade levels—undergrads, master’s candidates, and PhDs—from a cross section of schools including MIT Sloan and the School of Engineering.

“We are always excited by the energy created in just two short days during the MIT FinTech Challenge, and love being able to work with the students to identify and develop creative solutions to real-world business challenges,” said Lee Smallwood, COO, Markets & Securities Services for Citi. “Coming back as a sponsor of the event again this year allowed us to further strengthen our relationships with MIT and the Trust Center, and keep Citi on the leading edge for the future of financial services.”

The first FinTech Challenge in 2019 was held as part of the “Hello World” kickoff event for the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing to promote the use of AI and machine learning across industries. Its successful collaboration between students and industry led to Citi renewing as a sponsor to support the event becoming an annual activity.

The 2020 grand prize winner, taking home $8000 in winnings, was a team named “Outliers,” who proposed a new habit loop for model training to identify and prevent spoofers from conducting illegitimate trading activities. Second place ($3000) went to “Team Saavit,” while third place ($1000) was awarded to “12+1.”

The MIT FinTech Challenge is presented by the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, the MIT FinTech Club, and FinTech Sector Practice Leader Joaquin Visquert, MIT MBA ’20. Teams were formed immediately following the Opening Ceremony and began hacking together solutions until midnight on Saturday. Following a night of rest, the hacking resumed Sunday morning at 7:00 AM with final presentations and judging taking place at lunch time.

Following the Challenge, plans are for winning teams to stay in communication with our judges and mentors, as well as our sponsors, Citi and Citi Ventures, and their four team members onsite for the weekend, to review, iterate, and improve upon the solutions developed over the two days. This opportunity for real-world collaboration is an important dimension of the MIT FinTech Challenge with the understanding that continuing these partnerships made during the event will ultimately improve the fintech industry as a whole.

To stay involved with MIT’s FinTech activities and learn more about future year’s challenges, please email:


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