Amazon AWS and Northmill Bank - building a cloud-only neobank


Northmill Bank uses AWS to launch online banking services three times faster than in an on-premises environment. Based in Sweden, Northmill is a fast-growing neobank dedicated to improving people’s finances through innovation. The organization runs its financial applications and website on AWS, using AWS Lambda for serverless compute capabilities.

Seeking Scalability, Agility, and Compliance

Founded in 2006, Northmill Bank is a Swedish neobank committed to improving people’s financial lives through technology and innovation. “We strive to provide tools to help people make better financial decisions,” says Marcin Ziółkowski, vice president of engineering for Northmill Bank.

For several years, the bank used an on-premises data center to support internal financial applications for savings accounts, credit services, and insurance products. As it grew to 200,000 customers, Northmill sought to meet the demand for online banking services by launching a fully digital bank.

“We wanted to focus entirely on delivering new products and features quickly instead of spending time on IT management,” says Ziółkowski. The bank also needed to comply with ISO 27001 requirements for information security. “We are an innovative player, operating in one of the most regulated markets in the world, and we sought more automation to implement ISO 27001 controls,” Ziółkowski says.

Moving to AWS for Security and Automation

To be agile and fulfil its compliance requirements, Northmill chose to move to the cloud. After using another cloud provider for several years, the bank switched to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to support its online launch. “AWS offered improved security and better control of compute and storage capacity,” says Ziółkowski.

The neobank now runs its financial applications and customer-facing website on AWS Elastic Beanstalk and uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store customer data. Northmill relies on more than 500 AWS Lambda functions for serverless compute capabilities. “The serverless architecture gives us the ability to automate server provisioning, which used to take up to a week,” says Ziółkowski. “It also helps us automate compliance processes, such as anti-money laundering screening.”

In addition, Northmill uses AWS Fargate, a serverless compute engine for containers, to manage its microservices architecture. The neobank’s data warehouse, based on Amazon Redshift, helps it to collect and analyze data on customer behavior.

Delivering Eight New Products and Features in First Year

The neobank is more agile now that it’s running on AWS. “We went live with savings accounts three times faster than it would have taken using an on-premises environment, because of the agility we get from AWS. Using serverless technology, we can put all our development efforts into new products,” says Ziółkowski.

Northmill spends 90 percent of its time on product development, compared to the 20 percent typically spent by a bank operating an on-premises environment. As a result, Northmill rolled out eight new products and features in one year, including fixed-rate and variable savings accounts and Reduce, a solution that aims to lower customers’ current interest rates on existing credits. “By achieving faster time to market using AWS, we’ve launched a wide range of products to help people improve their finances,” Ziółkowski says.

Facilitates Compliance with Industry Regulations

Northmill easily implemented compliance frameworks thanks to its managed AWS services. “When scaling up and growing fast, it is convenient to connect to existing environments, like we did with AWS Lambda, enabling us to be fully compliant from day one,” says Ziółkowski. “We can comply with ISO 27001 regulations for information security by using AWS Lambda to automate processes for IT security regulations.”

The neobank now also has tighter security controls. For example, when it needed proof that local data and time had not been manipulated on a server during event logging, Northmill demonstrated that an outside party could not modify the information.

“There is no way for anyone to change the local data and time because the code runs in AWS Lambda, a fully managed environment,” Ziółkowski says.

As Northmill continues to grow its online bank, it plans to deploy additional AWS services. “The financial services industry is competitive, and we can innovate more easily and differentiate ourselves by running on AWS. We plan to continue to bring new products and features to market at speed. Just around the corner lies a transaction account and the opportunity for customers to set saving goals directly in the app,” says Ziółkowski.

Benefits of AWS

Launches online bank 3x faster than in an on-premises environment

Delivers 8 new products and features in 1 year

Enables compliance with ISO 27001 requirements

Strengthens security and scalability

AWS Services Used

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.

AWS Fargate is a serverless compute engine for containers that works with both Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS). Fargate makes it easy for you to focus on building your applications.

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications and services developed with Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python, Ruby, Go, and Docker on familiar servers such as Apache, Nginx, Passenger, and IIS.