Take-aways from the first French bitcoin hackathon

Jun 19, 2014
Vote on Hacker News

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Last week-end, La Maison du Bitcoin hosted the very first French bitcoin hackathon, sponsored by Coinbase and Paymium. As a member of the jury and Coinbase spokesperson, I had the opportunity to take part in this event. Let me come back to the projects and ideas that emerged from these 41 hours of hackathon.

93 developers, hackers and entrepreneurs applied to the event. Roughly 60 participants showed up on Friday at 7pm for the kick-off. After the presentations of the sponsors’ APIs, project leads presented their ideas to convince other entrepreneurs to team up during the week-end. 16 projects were retained.

And there it began, after the first mandatory hackathon pizza slice: 41 hours of product development, moonlight programming, brain cell overheat. Thankfully, Thomas and Eric, La Maison du Bitcoin founders, had turned off the mining rigs to be able to keep the co-working space as comfortable as possible during the whole hackathon.

Of the 16 projects, 14 teams actually made it until the end of the hackathon and presented a first prototype of their idea on Sunday at noon. Each team showcased its results during exactly five minutes. A jury made up of Eric Larchevêque, La Maison du Bitcoin founder, Gonzague Grandval, CEO of Paymium, Philippe Rodriguez, president of Bitcoin France, and myself, for Coinbase, voted for the best projects. We respected the following guideline: reward the most advanced projects, no beautiful slide deck should be able to win this hackathon.

And to tell the truth, I was amazed at how fast the participants of this hackathon developed convincing MVPs on top of very interesting ideas.

Here is a one-sentence description of each of these projects, as they were presented on Sunday.

5 projects received prizes – and 12 bottles of champagne.

  • BitKiosk: provides a white label platform through which any merchant can sell bitcoins. The team used BTChip and BitID technologies and received 1.5 BTC as a reward.
  • Kiss Kiss Coin Coin: A crowdfunding app built on top of the bitcoin protocol. The team also received 1.5 BTC.
  • Ultimate storage: was developed by Oleg Andreev. It’s a blind multi-sig secure storage for BTC investments. You can have a look at his slides here if you’d like to find out more about his product. Oleg received 0.5 BTC.
  • Heartbit: is a platform to have an instant overview of all your wallets on all the existing exchanges. It’s also possible to pass buy and sell orders from this platform. The team received 0.5 BTC.
  • Bitcoin evangelization flyer: Two 15-year-old high school kids designed a flyer explaining what’s bitcoin and how you can use it. The goal would be to give them away in public places, shops. They received the jury special prize: 0.3 BTC.

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Other cool hackathon projects:

  • Lottery: A lottery system based on the blockchain, which makes it secure and impossible to cheat.
  • Critick Wallet: A multi-wallet, mutli-cryptocurrency wallet.
  • App Market: A bounty platform / Stack Overflow with BTC rewards. You can post problems or solutions to the problems described on the platform.
  • Bazaar Protocol: A negotiation protocol that works on top of bitcoin transactions: the transactions wouldn’t be valid until an agreement has been reached. All the negotiation steps are recorded via these unconfirmed transactions.
  • Brokerpad: A prototype for a trading bot, specifically for cross exchange arbitrage.
  • http://oneid.io/: A product that enables you to display and share your identity, built on top of Namecoin, which stores your public identity in a trusted way. This was developed by Ronan Amicel, who mentioned the Coinbase Payment Page feature as a source of inspiration.
  • Public Wealth Disclosure: a Chrome Extension that allows anyone who installs it to see how many BTC are stored on a bitcoin address just by flying over it with the cursor. This was developed by the Bitcoin France subreddit moderator.
  • Bitcoin Evangelization website: A wordpress website to democratize bitcoin.
  • BitKiosk: A LED panel that displays the BTC price.

I was particularly thrilled to discover the more original applications of the bitcoin protocol: the crowdfunding platform, the lottery and the negotiation protocol. For now, bitcoin is particularly famous as a currency or a payment medium, and we tend to overlook its huge potential as an application platform.

This hackathon and the resulting projects are a good sign that the French bitcoin community is growing – and a reminder that France doesn’t lack very talented entrepreneurs and engineers to build successful bitcoin companies.