mCASH builds ambitious mobile payments system on Google Cloud Platform

A resilient payments system

mCASH aims to offer the most complete ecosystem for next-generation payments, in Norway and beyond. "We're redesigning payments, so that the incentive structure is win-win for the merchant, the bank, and the end user," says founder and CEO Daniel Döderlein.

The company has built partnerships with financial institutions, retailers, wireless carriers and consumers. Equipped with mCASH, a mobile phone becomes a virtual bank where a customer can send and receive money instantly, pay bills, view transactions, and even obtain instant credit.

mCASH relies on Google App Engine, a service of Google Cloud Platform, on the backend. App Engine was "a natural choice for us. Delegating the challenge of scaling the server-side infrastructure to Google allows us to focus our resources on building a beautiful and resilient payments system for our users," says Döderlein.

Public cloud for the financial industry

mCASH’s cloud-based solution is unorthodox for the financial services industry. Before they could operate as a payments provider, mCASH first had to convince the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (FSAN), which regulates the country’s financial institutions, that the cloud was secure.

Google joined mCASH to demonstrate that Google Cloud Platform "makes perfect sense for running a safe, distributed and scalable payment infrastructure," Döderlein says, When the FSAN had questions touching specifically on privacy or security-related issues, "Google really stepped up and delivered," he adds. "The fact that Google uses credible third-party auditors who certify the infrastructure according to international best-practices (ISO 27001:2005 and SOC2) worked greatly to our benefit."

"With App Engine, we can go from ten transactions a second to thousands a second without a hiccup."

Daniel Döderlein

After hearing them make their case, the FSAN granted mCASH a license to operate as an e-money provider. Because the license complies with standardized regulations governing financial institutions throughout the European Union (EU), mCASH is on the fast track to providing financial services across the EU. "What really stood out for us in our dealings with the financial regulators was Google's immense availability and flexibility when we needed them most," Döderlein says.

‘It scales beautifully’

A country of just five million people, Norway has impressive transaction volumes for card payments—1.6 billion transactions in 2013 alone, the highest per-capita rate in the world.

"Our ambition is to handle a majority of this volume in mCASH on top of Google Cloud Platform as consumers switch from cards to mobile," Döderlein says. "We wouldn’t be able to tackle such volumes without extreme scaling capabilities. With App Engine, we can go from ten transactions a second to thousands a second without a hiccup. Expanding across borders into new markets becomes vastly more tractable. It scales beautifully."

Other Cloud Platform products

mCASH plans to integrate additional Cloud Platform products as the business and platform mature. "BigQuery and Google Compute Engine give us awesome capabilities for running complex querying operations on the reams of data we're generating," Döderlein says. “We want to become a market leader in fraud prevention and fraud detection. Having unlimited Compute Engine cores for running inference procedures means we can do fast math and get valuable analytics and insight from our transactional data, almost in real time."

‘Grown to love this platform’

Döderlein knows that the decision to stick with Google Cloud Platform was correct. "Our transaction engine is an intricate piece of technology,” he says. “We’ve put a lot of work and research into building a sturdy and scalable solution from scratch. We started our journey with App Engine because it had the best specs for our needs. Over time, we've grown to love this platform."