Illinois Tech Presents Grainger IT Innovation Award to Stablecoin Payment Solution to Benefit Mexican Unbanked

Illinois Tech Presents Grainger IT Innovation Award to Stablecoin Payment Solution to Benefit Mexican Unbanked

Grainger IT Innovation Award 2022

image: 2022 Grainger Computing Innovation Prize StarPay team: André Guardia, (PHYS, BS PHYS 4th year), Jorge Plascencia (AE, BS AE 2nd year), Rishabh Tyagi (CS, BS CS 4th year) and David Singer (ITM, BS ITM 4th year).
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Credit: Illinois Institute of Technology

CHICAGO — The second annual Grainger Computing Innovation Award was presented to a team of innovative Illinois Tech students for inventing a compatible, easy-to-use stablecoin payment solution to solve the financial access problem for millions of unbanked Mexicans. The winning team, named StarPay, was announced as the winners of the $15,000 top prize in a final judged live by a panel of Chicago technology experts.

Five finalist teams pitched their prototypes to a panel of esteemed judges, the Illinois tech community, and invited guests in the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize Finals. The objective of the competition is to assemble interdisciplinary teams of students to showcase their computing skills in big data, artificial intelligence and data science projects that can have a positive impact on society. Teams were encouraged to tackle projects in the area of ​​”Computing with Data for Social Good” to solve real-world problems in education, health, energy, security public, transportation, economic development, sustainable smart infrastructure, climate change, etc.

Stablecoins are at the forefront of digital payment, with the Mexican government aiming to launch its own centralized digital banking currency (Crypto-Peso) by 2025. As building local and crypto-native payment networks in Mexico will difficult, the StarPay team aims to become “the go-to payment solution for the future of the country’s CDBC infrastructure.

“With 90% of all transactions conducted in cash, fragmented smartphone functionality and inconsistent internet coverage, there is a great need for a simple and compatible payment network,” says André Guardia, Team Leader StarPay (PHYS , BS PHYS 4th year ). “Access to financial services in Latin America is extremely important to us, as we have experienced first-hand the cascading consequences of being outside the traditional financial system: theft, corruption, eviction rates and exclusion from services digital. We want to build a future where everyone can access financial services, regardless of the type of phone they have, their location or their income level. »

The StarPay team consisted of Andre Guardia (PHYS, BS PHYS 4th year), Jorge Plascencia (AE, BS AE 2nd year), Rishabh Tyagi (CS, BS CS 4th year) and David Singer (ITM, BS ITM 4th year ). . . . .

“The Grainger Award finalists have all demonstrated the talent and innovative thinking that abounds in the Illinois Tech community,” said Brian Walker, Illinois Tech administrator and vice president and chief product officer at Grainger, a Fortune 500 industrial supplies company founded in Chicago in 1927. “The StarPay team exemplifies our students’ passion for creating technology solutions that can impact the global community.”

The esteemed jury also included Trenton Dunn, program manager for ThinkChicago, a national STEM talent attraction and retention program led by World Business Chicago in partnership with the city; Tim Stojka, co-founder of three technology companies, including cloud-based software and data analytics company Agentis, of which he is now CEO; Keith Carlson, who as Relativity’s Chief Technology Officer leads one of Chicago’s largest technology teams producing global, secure, end-to-end legal and compliance software; and Jonny LeRoy, vice president and chief technology officer of Grainger.

A highly competitive field with a truly exciting range of projects made up the competition’s second-year finalists, with projects ranging from a blockchain-powered microgrid system that efficiently manages renewable energy and distribution from the GreenGrid team who won second prize of $10,000 to a food messaging app to facilitate restaurant donations to address communities’ lack of access to food from the team third prize winner DonateMates, who received $5,000 for her innovation.

“Illinois Tech is goal-oriented. We harness the collective power of difference to drive innovation for everyone,” said Raj Echambadi, president of Illinois Tech. “The Grainger Computing Innovation Award reflects this goal as we call on students to bring different ways of thinking to meet some of the great challenges of our time and advance technology and progress for all.”

In collaboration with Illinois Tech’s new College of Computing, teams were made up of students from different fields of study and diverse backgrounds, with the goal of encouraging diversity of thought, unique solutions, and cross-disciplinary collaborations. .

“Computing is essential to solving the global problems of today and tomorrow,” said Lance Fortnow, dean of Illinois Tech’s College of Computing. “Using computing as a solution to these problems is a key mission of the College of Computing: to make data and computing central to Illinois Tech’s educational approach across all disciplines.”

A generous donation funded by the Grainger Foundation, an independent private foundation established by William W. Grainger, the founder of WW Grainger, Inc., supports the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize each year, with student teams receiving $15,000 for the first place, $10,000 for second and $5,000 for third.

“The Grainger Computing Innovation Award is a great example of the difference philanthropy is making at Illinois Tech to provide students with hands-on experiences in innovating and using technology to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Ernie Iseminger, vice president of advancement at Illinois. Technology.

“The Grainger Computing Innovation Prize provides our students with an incredible opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned in the classroom and directly apply their skills to challenges faced in Chicago and around the world,” adds Ken Christensen, Illinois Tech Provost. “The Grainger Foundation’s generous gift empowers Illinois Tech students to be lifelong learners and agents of change in the global community.”

To learn more about the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize and this year’s winning projects, visit

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