Case for a sustainable FinTech to develop custom IT stack


If you study the evolution of the some of the top performing global banking and financial institutions, you will hardly find anyone seemingly successful who performs banking on a third party owned cloud or cloud delivered “white label” service. The concerns when you ask various stakeholders range from data ownership, security, sustainability, agility and IP amongst the many. Although, all these institutions have a ‘boatload’ of IT staff and budget their systems are in most cases built by third-party professional development organizations and most of the heavy lifting being performed using a combination of internal developers and professional services. I should admit though that due to the decades of these traditional banks being in business with multiple M&A, their various department work in their individual silos and matters move at snail’s pace. The lesson learned is that these successful institutions have learned to focus on their core business and leave the core banking IT to the specialists.

When we consider FinTech, we are all witnessing this slow and sure disruption in the banking sector with the advent of OnDeck, Lending ClubProsper and Quick Bridge Funding of the world; one common observation from a technology standpoint is that they have all gone full-stack development in-house. As I study these organizations and accelerators, the “white label” strategy (or even simple Excel spreadsheets) was where some of them started but eventually evolved towards the route of high risk/high reward “shoot for the moon” strategy.

When it comes to developing a brand equity and delivering a high quality of service to consumers’ full-stack custom development is the way to go. The days when consumers or business “apply” for a loan are soon going to be over with the advent of the new economy of lenders equipped with FinTech. Banking would be as simple as shopping and customers would have choices with every process being so simple, minimal or no paperwork with a plethora of choices to pick from.

Forming an IT team of excellence in the age of rapid shift to more complicated technologies does require experts at each tier. If these are not managed well with vision and experience, this endeavor could soon cause the organization to collapse under its own weight. This is where identifying a trusted IT platform development partner which has a level of maturity in the financial stack development becomes very critical. Developing excellent iOS and Android applications require experts in those platforms that understand the intricacies. Operationally, tending to new object databases such as MongoDB, Cassandra requires constant attention and tweaking. Running an application on cloud services such as Amazon requires knowing the ins-and-outs of its various services and expertise on how to failover across regions. Even the venerable web front-end has evolved into CSS4, JSON and JavaScript MVC frameworks, such as Angular.js and Backbone.js. I have not even touched the development platform of whether to go with.NET, Java, RoR or PHP.

Having said this, I do not want to undermine the need for solid management with operational effectiveness, a precision-guided modeling and analytics team, an ever learning marketing and sales team, a strategic finance team alongside a FinTech which is supported by a solid IT team which drives technological excellence. These are exciting times for FinTech and what we all know is that “we are just getting started”. Exciting times ahead!

  • June 15, 2015