FINTECH Dozens project: history of creation and implementation

products Dec 25, 2019
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The ITOMYCH STUDIO team always looks for exciting projects. It is a particular pleasure for us to develop complex products, this process motivates us, energizes, and also helps to improve technical skills.

One of such projects in ITOMYCH STUDIO practice was the FINTECH Dozens project. It was created for the UK market. Dozens is not just a simple application developed by our team, it is a fintech platform for a branchless financial institution. Such products in the UK are named neo, challenger or digital banks.

This project became a real challenge for us. Firstly, it has a severe social mission: to help users store funds, and also teach them the basics of investing. We had to implement this mission in a mobile application. Secondly, the responsibility for technical solutions and the architecture of the financial and technical mobile application belonged to our team. Thirdly, we had extremely limited time for implementation and a minimum of technical requirements from the client.

It may seem unreal, but the fact remains: we have developed this project from idea to a product solution for 9 months. Today Dozens is a successful UK financial institution, which has more than 20,000 customers. It was included in the list of 100 FinTech Disrupters and the UK Startup 100 Index.

Our specialists also have worked on fintech applications before. But in these cases, the requirements for technical implementation were on the client-side. But with Dozens project everything was much more complicated. And the matter is not even in technical competence, but in responsibility, which we had to assume, as an organization and a team. It was a peculiar challenge.

As the Dozens project is focused on the UK market, at the start we had to face differences and features in the regulatory standards of the financial sector and in the consumers’ behavior and habits. We analyzed the situations, established communications, and as a result, the difficulties faded into the background.

The path to realization was intensive, but at the same time exciting, since the project was challenging and complex, and time resources were limited. All challenges strengthened, united our team, and improved developers’ technical skills. What were the challenges to the successful implementation of the Dozens banking project? What solutions have we found? This will be discussed in this article.

Design

The development of the project had to start with design, as this was the only way to understand what the client wants to see in the end. It was the best decision at that moment. The customer provided us with his vision of the project, informed about the features of the market and users preferences.

We also analyzed competitors and got access to their applications. It was the starting material, and we started working with it.

The design was developed in collaboration with the London team, CEO and product managers. Firstly, we’ve created wireframes that were regularly demonstrated to the client. Then our team finalized the style of mobile application and developed prototypes that were provided to the focus group.

Thus, we were able to test the idea and get real feedback from potential customers. All tests and polls were carried out in London.

By the way, our team has visited London several times to understand the target audience better and to simplify the communication process, and then, in turn, the London team also came for a visit.

It took 6 weeks to develop the basic design of the project. In tense moments, 5 designers were involved in the development process. Meetings with the approval of the final design lasted for about 5 hours. As a result, for a short period of painstaking teamwork, we got a ready design of the product and a springboard for moving to the next stage of development.

Architecture

After completion of the design and after receiving all the requirements from the customer, the functionality of application became clear. We had to build architecture through integration, and it was a special challenge for us. There was a need to combine all the structural elements into a system, determine the approach to the design of architecture, and also make a list of service providers for interaction. It should be taken into account that the bank is not only iOS and Android applications, but also an admin panel that helps the support team and treasurer.

In fact, any functionality in a mobile application must also take into account the requirements of these units. Our platform combines more than 20 services, including: KYC (know your customer), AML (anti-money laundering), notification services, card and payment processor, investment platforms and others. The server side of the application should coordinate the activities and interactions between these partners, the mobile application, and the admin panel.

The vital advice we can give to a company which decided to create a product with several integrations: ask a vendor for providing you with the codebase or the list of APIs with detailed documentation. The next step is an attempt to build your product with the chosen solution or check the API calls.

The fintech sector has many requirements and restrictions that need passing penetration testing or a technical assessment of the quality of solutions working. This will simplify the development and ensure smooth operation.

Working with the orchestration level - the transition zone between the mobile application and the integrations was a specific challenge at this stage. The team had to ensure its quality, connection security, scalability and stability of this solution.

Igor Tomych plays the role of CTO for Dozens. He coordinated the process of work at this stage, made decisions, took responsibility for further improvements and updates. He is in the middle between technology and business. It is essential for CTO, not only to be an advocate of the vision and mission but also to be about long-term strategic goals.

CTO, the solution architect, senior backend developers were involved in development architecture of solution. It took 3 weeks to implement this stage. As a result, we had extendable and scalable architecture combining more than 20 third-party providers.

Development

We’ve already got approved architecture of the future digital product, time has come to plan the sequence of features for releases. The most important task at this stage was to establish communication between the teams, because the work was extremely intense.

To achieve this goal in the shortest possible time, mobile, server developers, and DevOps, had to work closely with each other. During the peak load, more than 60 people were involved in the project.

However, the implementation process did not go smoothly and at this stage our team faced the following challenges:

  • The outdated API documentation - deprecated methods, non-relevant responses, restrictions that were not documented
  • Environments that have a different configuration - our platform successfully worked on stage environment, but the same code of the same platform failed on the production. Developers investigated the issue to fix our solution. Unless we found out that the configuration of the environment is just different and the documentation about these differences in configuration simply did not exist. From one side, it was a relief to discover that the reason is not bugs of our solution. From the other, we should set our solution to work within the necessary requirements.
  • Sub-partner dependencies - The production environment of Partner One will be available only if Partner Two provides the production environment. Partner Two doesn’t provide us with the prod environment until they perform their testing of our development environment. It was like a vicious circle.
  • Updates of APIs or environments without any notification - just imagine the situation. You are developing a project, and at the moment your application stops working. You spend hours to figure out where is the bug in your code, but the code is right. After all, the reason turns out to be the update of the partner’s API.

QA-specialists were played an important role at this stage. The application interacts with more than 20 services, each of which has its own infrastructure and configuration features. Such integration is extremely unpredictable, and QA-specialists studied the features of the system, taking into account the weaknesses of each of them.

And also predicted for all possible test cases, because each of the integration at some point may fail.

It took about 6 months for our team to implement this stage. It was the most difficult period. CTO, Backend Solution Architect, Mobile Solution Architect, backend developers, DevOps, mobile devs, QA engineers (manual and automation QAs), designers, product managers, Business Analyst. All of them participated in the development process.

But as a result of close-knit and responsible teamwork at this stage, we were able to provide the first public release of the Dozens MVP fintech project.

Maintenance & Support

The Dozens product entered the market as a result of 9 months of continuous, intensive and coordinated work of the ITOMYCH STUDIO team. In November 2018 the app appeared in stores. Users can register, receive plastic cards, use them, and analyze costs with a budgeting tool.

But at this stage, the project hasn’t had a full set of functions yet, so the development and testing process continued. After the public release of MVP, we received feedback from our customers. Users were excited, Dozens quickly entered into the UK market and became more popular every day. They talked about Dozens in the media, discussed on the forums, and the number of new users increased.

We organized a team of developers who quickly fixed bugs and imperfections in the application to improve functionality and to respond to users’ feedback.

After testing products on real users, we got feedback that needs to process. We gathered all the comments. Then we evaluated them by comparing them to the product vision and mission. For those reviews which we determined as matching the established goals, we set the priority and planned further updates and improvements.

However, an important point after the release was an assessment of the performance and quality of 3rd party services providers. If the service could not provide stable and reliable operation, this was the reason for the revision of the contract and further interaction with this service. We had to provide a high-quality service for our users and build trust because any failure will make customers worry about their money. Then we continued the development process and for another six months we’ve added bonds and an investment platform. Updated the design of the budgeting tool, finalized a large number of features that improved UX and usability.

Conclusion

The Dozens project has become a huge experience for the ITOMYCH STUDIO team in developing a turnkey fintech application. This project was especially important for developers. Their technical skills improved not even every day, but every hour. They overcame difficult tests, were able to adapt to unstable customer requirements, and solve integration problems.

After the Dozens project, our team retained the strongest people tested by time, circumstances, difficulties of the development process, and challenges that arose during implementation.

Working with ITOMYCH STUDIO is not about primitive projects and commonplace operations, not about narrow thinking and solving elementary problems. It is about the development of serious business solutions, the search for complex combinatorial ideas, solving challenges and understanding the meaning of each link in a large interaction system.

Every member of our team understands that ITOMYCH STUDIO three years ago and ITOMYCH STUDIO today are two completely different companies. And the point is not in quantitative indicators, but in qualitative ones: today we have another level of development and projects, and also a higher rate of expertise and responsibility. We are developing, improving, and this continuous movement motivates us, inspires, drives us, and in this we are united.

If you are ready to become a part of our crazy mechanism, share our values and work at an accelerated pace, leave your CV on the website.

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