Behind every feature, such as the ability to open a savings account under two minutes, or just taking a photo of your existing invoices and uploading them directly in the app, hides hard work and an innovative mindset. So, in order to understand how it is possible to develop and launch eight new smart banking products and features in just twelve months, we simply asked one of our iOS developers, Wiktor Wielgus, to give us the answers from behind the curtain!
What is the most crucial part of the product development process?
“It is really tough to cherry-pick a few parts, hence they are all necessary to create a competitive product or feature. It all starts with determining clear and precise goals, then have the guts and also the opportunity, to try stuff out and experiment. Everything is centered around the customer’s needs and the process demands a high degree of communication between the product and development teams. There is an important security aspect to that as well in terms of avoiding potential risks and complications, at the same time clarify any doubts that may occur during the implementation process.”
What are the typical obstacles you face in developing iOS apps? And are there any exciting opportunities?
"One challenge that we face, and also did before we started operating as a bank, is how to balance increased regulatory, compliance and security requirements with a strong focus on innovation. This is connected to the trying stuff out and experiment mindset. We have to find a way where we can not solely focus only on building smarter, more user-friendly interface, but also put huge investments into keeping everything safe. For me, the greatest opportunity is making an app that will be used by thousands, hopefully soon, millions of people. And that I know is helping people save money."
Northmill is a cloud-only bank, one of few, how do you notice this in your everyday work?
"The servers don't take us a huge space in our office! Haha, just kidding! I'm very glad that we don't use old-fashioned, inefficient engineering practice and go cloud-only. The advantages are many like increased efficiency and low maintenance. But from a developer perspective, working with cloud provides the possibility to focus on parts that add value for the customer, and not as much on e.g. infrastructure. As an example, we don't need to integrate new servers as traffic increases. We are ready to scale-up and handle millions of customers all the time, and I think we will need it if we continue to attract customers as we do now…"
Yes, speaking about that, how do you manage to roll out new products and features at such a fast pace?
"We believe in automating everything that can be automated because we know that in the end, that will make the banking experience better for our customers. Today we have a fully automated development process thanks to continuous integration and delivery. We have split our IT company structure into product teams, which allows us to release new features at a very fast pace. Each team is self-contained, independent and can focus only on their part of responsibilities. We work in a DevOps model that keeps the product and ownership of it, close to the development teams at all times. The same goes for our quality assurance (QA) work which is an integral part of the product teams. I think we have found a very good balance in our product development process, and the ultimate proof of that is the great response we receive on our products from our customers."
In terms of new technology, what is most exciting in your view?
"There is so much exciting going on! Most of it is centered around artificial intelligence and machine learning and we are constantly exploring these technologies in different ways. Technology is fast becoming the new trusted partner and the opportunities are basically endless. I believe they will play a significant role in our quest of developing smarter banking products that help everyone save money, not just those who can afford it."