Financial institutions, like other critical service industries such as health care and air travel, have the unique challenge of no room for failure. It’s a bad day if your ATM card doesn’t work. It’s a really bad day if you do a bunch of online trading based on incorrect information. Fintech startups, beware. Money, as it turns out, is kind of a big deal to a lot of people.
What is this “Fintech” you speak of?
Financial technology (“Fintech”) is an exploding industry of startups and technology shops providing financial institutions, regulators, non-tech industries and end users with software that profoundly disrupts the way we use financial information today. Companies like Adyen, KreditTech, and Nutmeg are already experiencing success as early emergent leaders in the UK scene, much as Stripe, Betterment, and Robinhood have been in the United States.
The same startups also bring with them newer requirements over how fast software must be shipped in order to keep up with the pace of customer demand. Concepts like rapid iteration and continuous delivery embodied in the DevOps movement are great for mobile games and boutique web apps, but introduce increased risk of missing bugs before the updates are released. A few bugs here and there might be okay for entertainment media, but for Fintech makes a very bad customer experience.
What does Bad Fintech Look Like?
What if your banks and financial dashboards experienced downtime the same way as Netflix, Airbnb, and Tinder were affected by Amazon’s outage earlier this week? People would freak out like never before, that’s what. Fintech plays by different rules that the standard startup or DevOps software shop because to the consumer, finances are a critical system. When it comes to availability and accuracy, systems that control or direct your use of money have huge expectations to fulfil, even if you don’t know it until it’s too late.
As I look forward to speaking at APIdays London, my prep work for the talk has me thinking about how important it is to get certain things right. I look at the world we’ve built, as connected as it is, and I think what would it be like if it didn’t work? My friends, my family, what would it be like for them…to not be able to get money from our bank accounts or pay for things with a credit card? What if the maps in the car don’t work and we’re already running late to a birthday party? What if we’re at the hospital and they can retrieve the information they need to make a safe decision about my child’s health?
What’s in store for Fintech in 2015?
Three words: good, fast, and cheap. Companies in financial technology have a challenge that DevOps hasn’t quite faced yet. They have to find a way to provide software that satisfies all three aspects of the Designer’s Triangle at the same time. DevOps knows how to do fast and cheap; it’s a matter of taking the lessons learned by people implementing DevOps practices and finding intelligent ways to apply them to situations where strict regulations and compliance considerations make it difficult to speed delivery.
At APIdays London 2015, SmartBear Software and Sogeti UK will ask questions and present a few ideas on how to help established financial institutions and new technology startups deliver better, faster software in less time. Our sense is that Fintech and DevOps, like sparring partners, have much to learn from each other moving forward, and we can help to facilitate this learning process.
What challenges do you see with financial technology? How do you think DevOps culture needs to change before banks and securities can adopt it as mainstream for financial software delivery?