Stay organized with collections Save and categorize content based on your preferences.

Bulder Bank: Disrupting the Norwegian financial sector with advanced digital services

About Bulder Bank

Bulder Bank provides mobile-only services to its customers and is a digital offshoot of Sparebanken Vest, the third-largest savings bank in Norway. More than 10,000 people have moved their mortgages to Bulder since the app launched in 2019, taking advantage of advanced services, such as automated interest rate cuts in-line with fluctuations in the housing market.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance, Technology
Location: Norway

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

Bulder Bank has taken a cloud-native approach, building its platform in Google Cloud to enable a small, agile team to manage its app and services and quickly respond to customer needs at scale.

Google Cloud results

  • Attracts more than 25,000 active users each month
  • Cuts operational costs through process optimization
  • Provides 99% uptime from initial launch onwards
  • Enables new features to be rolled out in under two minutes
  • Empowers meeting the future needs of customers with the latest Google Cloud features and services

Building a banking platform in Google Cloud in 9 months

How we bank is changing. Developments in technology and shifts in consumer expectations have driven digital transformations across the global banking sector. And a new wave of fintech challengers has arisen to capitalize on this changing landscape.

Among the companies spearheading Norway’s drive towards innovation is Bulder Bank, a fully digital banking platform built from the ground up in just nine months. In an industry that’s traditionally seen as slow-moving, its creators have acted swiftly. But to achieve its disruptive aims, Bulder Bank needed a technology partner capable of delivering the speed, scalability, and flexibility it desired. It turned to Google Cloud in autumn 2018 to solve the challenges that lay ahead. Today, the app attracts more than 25,000 active users each month.

"We knew we’d set ourselves an ambitious goal, and some people thought it was impossible," explains Torvald Kvamme, CEO, Bulder Bank. "But that moonshot mentality forced us to consider questions and approaches we may not have. And Google Cloud was the only partner we believed could turn those dreams into a reality."

Striving for success with the right technology and talent

Getting the right technology was crucial for Bulder Bank. But delivering consistently great customer experiences was its primary aim. The Bank chose Google Cloud and a managed microservices approach, as this would free the business from the constraints of building its technology stack, enabling colleagues to focus their time and energy on what really mattered, its customers.

"We focus on technology very strongly but our strategy is customer-centric first and foremost," Kvamme says. "We believe that delivering great customer outcomes naturally leads to the economic results we hope to achieve. So our approach to technology starts and ends with people, from equipping our teams with top talent, right through to empowering them with the best tools to meet our customers’ expectations."

"We knew we’d set ourselves an ambitious goal, and some people thought it was impossible. But that moonshot mentality forced us to consider questions and approaches we may not have otherwise. And Google Cloud was the only partner we believed could turn those dreams into a reality."

Torvald Kvamme, CEO, Bulder Bank

Adopting a fully managed backend with Firebase

Firebase was among the key tools to achieve this, says Bulder Bank CTO Markus Nordstrønen. The functionality offered by this suite of solutions was vital to enable his team to accelerate the process of developing the app and features envisioned by Bulder Bank, Nordstrønen says. It allowed Bulder Bank to quickly build an app with a fully managed backend infrastructure with asynchronous integration with all of the data their customers need.

It also enables a small team to easily monitor performance and engage with users, something that was particularly important in the early days of the business when just 15 people were tasked with creating the platform. Thanks to the platform’s stability, Bulder Bank has been able to provide 99% uptime from initial launch onwards. And new features can be rolled out quickly, with the time from a change in code to deployment taking less than two minutes.

"There were really no competitors for the kind of advanced services that Firebase can offer," Nordstrønen adds. "Google Cloud was five years ahead of the competition in this area. We value the security model that Firebase provide, as well as the capabilities of Firebase Crashlytics. Today, we’re using Firestore as our caching layer for all of the data that we present to users and that we work on in the background. And we’re also using Firebase Cloud Messaging and Firebase Remote Config to flag new features and improve customer experiences. We’re embracing the whole Firebase package as an accelerator for tailoring our mobile app, and it's fitting our purposes very well."

Powering a platform with Google Cloud

Bulder Bank ecosystem

Plugged into this backend infrastructure are a number of Google Cloud solutions, including Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), a product whose maturity and approach to containerization gave Bulder Bank a reliable and scalable solution for the domain services they have built in-house. Bulder Bank has built an event-driven architecture around Firestore, leveraging serverless Pub/Sub and Cloud Functions capabilities to ingest and respond to these events. These services are responsible for transforming and refreshing the data received from the 'Banking as a Service' backend software. This is utilized by Bulder Bank to power some of its events leveraged through an API access layer. This whole process enables Bulder Bank to provide its customers with information updates, such as updated account information, within seconds.

"It’s a really fast user experience," adds Nordstrønen. "And it's asynchronous, which means that the app really lives. It doesn't wait for a response, it gets ready, and any changes are automatically registered and made available to the user almost instantaneously. If I use my card in a store, for example, this generates an event within the app and, based on that event, we can trigger quite a lot of processes in our infrastructure."

"There were really no competitors for the kind of advanced services that Firebase can offer. Google Cloud was five years ahead of the competition in this area. We value the security protocols and user base that Firebase provides, as well as the capabilities of Firebase Crashlytics."

Markus Nordstrønen, CTO, Bulder Bank

Taking charge of data with BigQuery and Looker Studio

Bulder Bank uses BigQuery to mine data provided by FireStore, as well as its core banking data warehouse and other data services. The team is also using Looker Studio to create reports and dashboards to better understand the insights contained within this data. This enables Bulder Bank to spot inefficiencies and cut operational costs through process optimization, such as removing services that are no longer needed.

"We’re trying to stay on top of our data as far as possible, to monitor how things are working and to further improve and automate our services," adds Nordstrønen. "We use a framework called ‘growth hacking’ to better understand the value of our services and the needs of our customers. We then use this data to improve wherever we can."

Anticipating customers’ future needs

Thanks to the culture that Bulder Bank has built upon, with managed services enabling a high degree of autonomy within development teams, colleagues feel invested in their work and enjoy a strong sense of ownership, says Nordstrønen. And that confidence is enabling them to work with Google Cloud to anticipate the next big developments and features.

"We enjoy really close cooperation with the Google Cloud team in Norway," he adds. "We’re always testing out the latest services and improvements they have to offer. And our developers love being ahead of the curve, they find this a lot of fun, which is an added bonus. We have meetings with the team at least once a quarter, and we have been involved with Alpha and pre-launch programs with Google Cloud several times. We will always be looking for the next improvement for customers."

"We enjoy really close cooperation with the Google Cloud team in Norway. We’re always testing out the latest services and improvements they have to offer. And our developers love being ahead of the curve, they find this a lot of fun, which is an added bonus."

Markus Nordstrønen, CTO, Bulder Bank

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Bulder Bank

Bulder Bank provides mobile-only services to its customers and is a digital offshoot of Sparebanken Vest, the third-largest savings bank in Norway. More than 10,000 people have moved their mortgages to Bulder since the app launched in 2019, taking advantage of advanced services, such as automated interest rate cuts in-line with fluctuations in the housing market.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance, Technology
Location: Norway