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Sniip takes the sting out of paying bills with the help of Google Cloud

January 5, 2022
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Alistair Cornish

Chief Technology Officer, Sniip

It’s been said that nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. You could also add paying bills to that!

Beyond the fact that bills separate people from their money, which can be painful for many, too often the online bill-paying process compounds the challenges: To pay some bills, you might have to log in to your bank’s clunky website or mobile banking app. For others, you may have limited payment options or they may not accept your favourite credit card. And did we mention late fees when you forget that an email bill you received a month ago is suddenly overdue? Plus, all those billers who now hold your sensitive personal and financial information may or may not have secure data environments. 

We understand your pain. That’s why we built Sniip. Our goal is simply to enable every Australian to pay any bill, the way they want, on their terms. It doesn't matter what cards you have, who you bank with or who your billers are. You can have the same seamless experience: receive and pay your bills in one app, securely.

Opportunity knocked, but required scale

Sniip began life in 2013 as a way to make it easier for people to purchase from a retail catalog, donate to charities, or pay their utility bills. By scanning a unique circular QR code, you could make a purchase, pay a bill, or give a donation in less than 20 seconds. 

We soon came to realise that the bill payment market in Australia was (a) enormous and (b) underserviced from a consumer perspective. Importantly, it was in need of a solution that we could provide. The underlying technology upon which the original Sniip app had been built would not be up to the task. 

Our ‘aha!’ moment was when we said to each other, “If we're going to be a large-scale business and have millions of Australians paying their bills through Sniip, we need something more scalable." And that’s what led us to Google Cloud including Google Kubernetes Engine.

We knew that a microservices approach to rebuilding the app made sense in terms of speed, flexibility, and cost. Kubernetes was in its infancy and not widely used in Australia, but we loved how it is supported as part of Google Cloud and could manage the many microservice applications we needed to develop.  

We also liked how Google Cloud has the ability to separate services and manage multiple environments on different projects. We now run our development, user acceptance testing, and production as three independent projects. This approach helps us speed up development, maintain security, and manage costs. 

As a result, we can develop and deploy features faster than large corporates with legacy tech infrastructure and manage those three very robust environments, with 70-plus services, with a streamlined design and development team. For example, we went from exploring Google Pay to turning it live in four weeks. We push new releases live every two weeks and in reality, could do it daily if we desired.

Google Cloud components such as Cloud Run help our developers be more productive. Because Cloud Run automates deployment and provisioning, our developers can focus their time on writing applications without worrying about infrastructure. Cloud Run also helps balance spikes in user demand without affecting performance.

Cloud strategy drives success

Our ability to move quickly and achieve scale has enabled us to leapfrog a lot of other financial services businesses, many of whom are still trying to transition into the cloud. It’s helped us build partnerships with payment giants like American Express, BPAY, and Citibank.

Plus, were the first in Australia to enable bill payment through Google Pay and Apple Pay. And you can even connect your Gmail account to Sniip in order to funnel your bills directly into the Sniip app.

Today, we have more 65,000 users connected to more than 60,000 billers. But to be honest, we feel like we are just getting started!

We’ve been mostly focused on the consumer space, but now we're starting to target the two million small businesses that operate in Australia. We’re also looking to expand into different geographical jurisdictions. With that type of volume, transaction monitoring and fraud control are of paramount importance. So we’re continuing to focus on automating our fraud detection using machine learning algorithms. 

We are committed to expanding our relationship with Google, particularly around Google Pay.  Paying a bill through Sniip using Google Pay is now as easy as doing a point of purchase scan at a retailer, but so many Australians don’t know that yet. Working together with Google and our financial services partners over the next 12 months to engage the Google Pay audience of Australia and show them the benefits of using Sniip to pay all their bills. 

As I keep saying, we’re just getting started!

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