The Alkansya (piggy bank) goes High tech

The grand champion of the 10th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards wants to transform the way Filipinos save and spend for products and services they aspire for.

This team from Bataan Peninsula State University is grand champion at the 10th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards for its kiosk-like device, CoinSaver.

The grand champion of the 10th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards wants to transform the way Filipinos save and spend for products and services they aspire for.

The annual awards, an anchor program under the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (SWEEP) of wireless leader Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), aims to promote development of innovative wireless devices and mobile applications that can enable Filipinos to live more.

Now on its 10th year, SWEEP Awards counts graduating students from SWEEP-partner engineering and IT schools as participants.

“For the past 10 years, SWEEP has been promoting the culture of innovation among our partner schools. We would like to sustain that tradition as we engage our youth in coming up with ground-breaking ideas that can be transformed into viable products and services that help improve people’s lives,” said Smart Public Affairs head Ramon R. Isberto.

Joining the roster of winners this year is Bataan Peninsula State University with CoinSaver: The New and Innovative Way to Save. CoinSaver is a kiosk-like device that allows the user to save for a product or service he wants or needs a coin or two at a time.

Piggybank kiosk



The concept of saving is nothing new. Saving a coin or two every day in a piggy bank is something that even kids know and do. What’s novel about this is the kiosk-like device that the team developed in place of the traditional piggybank and linking it to the mobile phone.

By dropping coins on a regular basis for a month or so, depending on the service provider or product vendor, the user will have a chance to save for the full cost of the product/service. He can then claim the product/service using an SMS voucher that the machine will send to his mobile phone once amount is saved in full.

“The aim of this device is to encourage people to save their extra coins for a specific purpose. We hope to change the way people value loose change and their saving habits,” said team leader Mark Anthony Colentava.

Inspired by the SSS AlkanSSSya project, which encourages people to save a few coins a day to complete their monthly contribution, the team came up with the concept of a wireless device in place of the alkansya or piggybank enabled by mobile technology.


Apart from Colentava, the other members of the team are Lorraine Bon, Ysrael Dizon, Arvin Bordios, Laurence Arguelles, Jayven Gozon, Armando Ching, Jr., Reden Aquino, Erwin Levy Aquino, and Anne Farrah Alejo. All are graduating Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) students, except for Gozon, Ching, Alejo who are on their 4th year, and Reden and Erwin Aquino, who are still 3rd year students.

The CoinSaver, a kiosk-like wireless device bested other innovations at the 10th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards.

Garage innovation

The biggest companies started their journeys at their very own garage just like Apple and HP.

CoinSaver is no different. Since most of the tools and materials are huge and require a larger space, the group decided to move the production of the prototype to Colentava’s house.

“Our CoinSaver was developed in a garage. We do not have a car, we only have a tricycle, so it is a tricycle garage,” says Colentava.

More than just developing a device that would be able to execute the group’s idea, the challenge also lies in getting the device to work.

Colentava recalls that one of the key components of the device was damaged during the final construction process and one of the team had to travel for eight hours to buy a replacement part in Manila.

The stress of making sure the device works continued until a few minutes before the group presented the device for final judging.

“Bataan to Manila is a three-hour trip and it was a bumpy ride along NLEX and EDSA. During the trip, a few of the device’s parts kept falling off. As a result, we spent the last few minutes before the presentation of the device to the judges to fix everything making sure each part is in the right place, and that device works,” says Colentava.

SWEEP veterans

Colentava and teammate Arguelles are no strangers to SWEEP. They were both 3rd year students when they joined the team that won third place in the 8th SWEEP Awards with the entry ‘Aquaculture Solution to Salinity and Oxygen Level’.

They said that experience has inspired both of them to sustain the spirit of research and innovation.

“Since then, I never stopped believing that those little ideas that we have can be transformed into useful and viable products. Now that I had my own team to lead and we won the 10th SWEEP Awards, I was transformed from being that little kid who dreamed, into a man that can turn his ideas into products that help people improve their lives,” says Colentava.

“Wining the SWEEP Awards has transformed the entire team. We are inspired. Together we will change the world by offering one innovation at a time.”

As grand champion, the team won P500,000 in cash plus the equivalent amount for their school in the form of a grant. To further push the culture of technology entrepreneurship to the young innovators, Smart has included in the prizes a familiarization tour in Silicon Valley in California. Select members of the team and their faculty mentor will be leaving for the United States for a week-long tour in May this year.

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