Vodeno: Pioneering banking as a service, 100% in the cloud

About Vodeno

Founded in 2018, Vodeno is transforming the financial services industry by offering instant access to a comprehensive banking-as-a-service platform that addresses the challenges of increased regulation and allows customers to take advantage of the digital revolution through innovation.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance, Technology
Location: Poland

Pioneering Polish fintech firm Vodeno has produced one of the world’s first banking platforms to operate entirely in the cloud, complying with strict regulations while innovating at speed.

Google Cloud results

  • Develops and customizes platforms at speed to meet the unique needs of each customer
  • Enables full, transparent reporting to banking regulators in less than four hours
  • Complies with stability regulations with active-active clusters in two regions

From concept to production in just nine months

The Vodeno Cloud Platform (VCP) is a comprehensive banking platform that operates entirely on Google Cloud, complying with strict regulations and allowing innovation at speed.

Founded in Poland in 2018, Vodeno offers banks and financial services a ready-to-use, white-label, cutting-edge banking platform. Simply by connecting to Vodeno’s more than 300 APIs covering all aspects of retail and SME universal bank activities, companies can implement a full suite of retail banking products, from current accounts and loans, to mortgages and credit cards. VCP also uses systems of intelligence such as smart contract automation to ensure an exceptional customer experience and blockchain transaction monitoring to guarantee data integrity.

“No other company we’ve seen offers a truly universal banking platform,” says Mirosław Forystek, Chief Executive Officer at Vodeno. “Most only offer specific technical solutions or niche services, such as foreign exchange, but we deliver the same scope of services as a universal mid-size bank, not only for retail clients, but for small businesses too.”

Banking regulations are strict and vary from country to country, so Vodeno is secure by design, with customer-level encryption for data protection, to help customers comply with rules on everything from data security to platform availability. To ensure regulatory compliance, VCP has more than 1,000 controls implemented for GDPR, EBA, SOX, COSO, ITIL, and Cobit, with daily monitoring and obligatory reporting.

“The final responsibility to comply with regulations lies with the financial institutions themselves,” says Mirosław. “That means customers have to trust us to protect information for them, and we have to deliver what they need, when they need it. One of our key services is to make sure that whatever a bank needs to present to a regulator is never more than a click away.”

“Everything we offer is made and supported in the Google Cloud ecosystem. That’s how we deliver best-in-class solutions within a very robust platform. Developing competitive online products used to be a huge transformation project for banks, but with Vodeno, they just have to migrate their data center to the cloud.”

Mirosław Forystek, Chief Executive Officer, Vodeno

It’s that combination of innovation and compliance which makes financial technology challenging in a unique and complex way. Vodeno needs to adapt at speed to stay ahead of its competitors, while at the same time satisfying a constantly evolving set of banking regulations.

To do that, Vodeno chose to build its platform on Google Cloud with microservices architecture and a CI/CD pipeline to create a robust, adaptable, and customizable platform. This also enabled it to build in scalability for forecasted exponential growth in customer digital interaction and data lake services such as batch processing, speed processing, analytics, and reporting.

“Everything we offer is made and supported in the Google Cloud ecosystem,” says Mirosław. “That’s how we deliver best-in-class solutions within a very robust platform. Developing competitive online products used to be a huge transformation project for banks, but with Vodeno, they just have to migrate their data center to the cloud.”

Rising to the regulatory challenges of each unique bank

For ready-to-use banking platforms, every financial services company presents a unique compliance challenge. A bank might operate in two or more countries, each with their own set of regulations. Or it might need to manage large volumes of transactions at peak periods, without becoming unstable. Vodeno needs to adapt quickly to meet those demands, while securing the trust of its customers with guarantees in service-level agreements.

“Within the EU, if there’s an outage and a banking platform becomes unavailable, the bank typically has four hours to report to the regulator,” says Jarosław Sobel, Head of Core Services at Vodeno. “It has to report the outage and detail its impact: how many customers were affected, the effect on payments, the cost of relaunching the system, and so on. The bank has to do that, not the outsourcer. Our role is to give the bank all of that information accurately, on-demand, and ready to be passed along. So we rely on our cloud provider to be transparent in turn.”

When the founders of Vodeno first had the idea for their banking platform, they checked to see if something like it already existed. They came to the conclusion that nothing as ambitious as the platform they were proposing was yet on the market. “We chose to build on Google Cloud because it sees this as something groundbreaking, too,” says Jarosław. “Google Cloud product developers are as interested as we are in being at the forefront of change in this industry. That drives our collaboration, so we tackle every challenge as a team.”

Vodeno uses Google Kubernetes Engine for its application layer, while the database layer comprises Cloud SQL, Cloud Bigtable, BigQuery, and Cloud Spanner. In addition, a data lake built on BigQuery and Cloud Bigtable stores information for analysis, ready to deliver results in real time, to calculate financial and regulatory reports. All client data is stored in one place, protected by blockchain technology: a decentralized, permissioned ledger serves as a single source for all transactions, encrypted with a unique customer encryption key.

“Many of our competitors are based in one region, but with Google Cloud we are based in two regions, which means our platform is much more stable,” says Piotr Bojdoł, Head of Cloud Management at Vodeno. “To comply with regulations, we need to prepare for a disaster in one region. On Google Cloud, our architecture and applications run in active-active mode in two regions. This means that when you log in to our mobile application, for example, your session could run in either region. It doesn’t matter. Everything is redundant, so we have identical workloads running on independent systems.”

“We’re reinventing what banking platforms can be, and we’re doing it in close collaboration with Google Cloud engineers. When we reach the limits of existing tools, we meet Google Cloud teams and discuss what to do next. Our challenges are their challenges, and that’s really important to us.”

Piotr Bojdoł, Head of Cloud Management, Vodeno

Developing at speed to deliver custom platforms for clients

At the root of Vodeno’s rapid and robust development is a fully automated CI/CD pipeline, which puts new iterations into production with minimal downtime and disruption. At any time, Vodeno has up to 150 developers refining and creating the platform, served by a DevOps team of 15 people. Developers prepare images in the open-source DevOps platform GitLab, ready to be deployed using Jenkins, an open-source automation server, on four environments, clearly separated between production and non-production. And because the Vodeno platform is described in code in Terraform, an open-source infrastructure coding tool, it is simple to deploy dedicated infrastructure for each new customer.

“Our network architecture is complicated, but it's secure,” says Piotr. “We put a lot of demand on Google Cloud networking, and work closely with the Google Cloud team to keep things running smoothly. When we encounter something new, the team helps us find a workaround and investigate a solution.”

“Together with Google Cloud, we’re proving that cloud can be used for more than capacity testing or limited proof-of-concept applications. The whole range of banking services can be served from the cloud. We believe our fruitful collaboration with Google Cloud is set to transform the industry.”

Piotr Bojdoł, Head of Cloud Management, Vodeno

Collaborating with Google Cloud to push the envelope

From concept to production, it took less than nine months to create the Vodeno platform. “We’re reinventing what banking platforms can be, and we’re doing it in close collaboration with Google Cloud engineers,” says Piotr. “When we reach the limits of existing tools, we meet Google Cloud teams and discuss what to do next. Our challenges are their challenges, and that’s really important to us.”

“Together with Google Cloud, we’re proving that cloud can be used for more than capacity testing or limited proof-of-concept applications,” he adds. “The whole range of banking services can be served from the cloud. We believe our fruitful collaboration with Google Cloud is set to transform the industry.”

About Vodeno

Founded in 2018, Vodeno is transforming the financial services industry by offering instant access to a comprehensive banking-as-a-service platform that addresses the challenges of increased regulation and allows customers to take advantage of the digital revolution through innovation.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance, Technology
Location: Poland