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Pravaler: Zero unavailability, lower costs, and higher efficiency with Google Cloud

About Pravaler

Pravaler is Brazil’s largest private student-loan company and first fintech. Since 2001, it has transformed the lives of over 170,000 students and partnered with more than 500 education institutions throughout the country.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: Brazil

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The fintech’s participation in Google for Startups Accelerator helped it update its systems, build a more robust ML structure, and evolve its chatbot.

Google Cloud results

  • Reduced maintenance time for machine learning models from 3–4 hours per week to virtually zero
  • Increased daily deployments from 3 to 10 in an automated, secure, and efficient way
  • System stability SLA of 99.9%

35% reduction in infrastructure costs.

Brazil still has a long way to go to expand access to higher education. According to Síntese de Indicadores Sociais 2019, a survey by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), only 32.7% of Brazilians aged 18 to 24 are enrolled in a university. With the mission to make higher education more accessible, fintech Pravaler has supported over 170,000 students at more than 500 institutions through its private student loan programs since 2001.

This is a significant asset for Brazil’s educational landscape, where 84.6% of the 2019 higher-education cohort enrolled in private institutions, according to the country’s most recent Higher Education Census, conducted by research body Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais Anísio Teixeira (Inep). As a result of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Pravaler also began taking action to help students renegotiate their debt.

“We help people who want education to pay for that education. We act as a bridge between students and educational institutions and provide that access through differential-payment loan programs,” says Daniel Cukier, the company’s CTO.

The company has a digital platform to perform the approval process entirely online. In 2020, however, Pravaler’s IT team noticed the need to optimize its infrastructure even further and develop projects that were still on the drawing board. This included improving the product so it could operate fully in the cloud, building a more robust machine learning structure, and evolving its chatbot. The fintech’s participation in Google for Startups Accelerator’s sixth class made all this possible.

Finding the ideal solutions for the business

The program’s mentors helped the team choose the best tools to update their systems based on the company’s goals and its vision for the future. They also provided support throughout the deployment process and made recommendations to improve the student attraction rate. “Thanks to that partnership, we greatly improved and achieved important results. In just a few months, we managed to accelerate processes that could have taken years,” says Cukier.

One of those initiatives was migrating the company’s infrastructure to Looker, the Google Cloud platform for BI, data apps, and embedded analytics. Data modeling used to be performed separately for each area. After migrating, the process was significantly streamlined and integrated, which was essential for the company to establish a data-oriented culture. Looker helped provide unified data handling and modeling, thus speeding up reporting.

“The migration’s key point was governance. With the autonomous data analytics provided by Looker, each area can perform the adaptations they need to visualize what they need, a real differentiator for us.”

Vivian Oliveira, Data Intelligence and BI Manager, Pravaler

Three other solutions, Cloud Build, Cloud Run and Google Cloud's operations suite (formerly known as Stackdriver), were adopted to improve the risk-analysis functionality, which optimizes decision-making to offer credit to aspiring students based on data. Many data-modeling processes were manual, with no scalability, which prevented the fintech from achieving its desired performance level.

Based on those tools’ machine learning assets, the team worked together with the program’s mentors to create a pipeline and kickstart a continuous improvement process for the functionality. “Once the pipeline was structured, we reviewed every model and automated different processes, which now depend less on people to run,” explains Vivian Oliveira, the company’s Data Intelligence and BI Manager. “This means any Pravaler data scientist can tweak the models and perform maintenance as needed, even if they were not involved in the creation process.”

A new performance standard

The migration process led the fintech to look at other equally important operation improvement opportunities for its business. They updated the platform’s back end and built a more robust cloud infrastructure. The team also managed to increase the number of daily deployments from three to 10 in an automated, secure, and efficient way. All without service unavailability, since their system stability SLA rose to 99.9%.

The ML team’s maintenance time was cut from three–four hours per week to virtually zero. Now they can spend more time developing new models.

“These challenges helped us take the company to the next level. The reduction in our build time and cost was pretty significant. We also managed to start using the chatbot in our operations.”

Adriano Croco, Technology Coordinator, Pravaler

The ease of integration between Google Cloud’s solutions was singled out as one of the differentiators that allowed the team to optimize its work time, make the environment more scalable, and achieve good visibility of each project’s costs. The cost reduction achieved was 35% on infrastructure alone.

“Cost reports in Google Cloud are highly transparent. We know which projects are spending more and, therefore, how to work and integrate teams so we can optimize those costs.”

Daniel Cukier, CTO, Pravaler

For the fintech’s Technology Coordinator, Adriano Croco, the experience with the program was highly rewarding. “It was great to have that kind of exchange with market professionals, seeing what they are doing and integrating their knowledge to improve the business,” he said. Pravaler’s results got the company even closer to its big goal for 2025: helping 1 million people access higher education.

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

Contact us

About Pravaler

Pravaler is Brazil’s largest private student-loan company and first fintech. Since 2001, it has transformed the lives of over 170,000 students and partnered with more than 500 education institutions throughout the country.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: Brazil