Our fantastic and multi-talented Head of Architecture Rohan aka @sharpiexinja went online to answer questions from our community about Xinja Architecture; how we designed and built and are continuing to build a bank fully in the cloud, in the best possible way. Here’s the lowdown.
What’s so great about ‘event-driven architecture’?
Being ‘event-driven’ is a key attribute of our architecture and naturally we think it’s pretty cool As Rohan says: “We use event sourcing heavily at Xinja. This means that everything that happens in our stack is represented as an individual event – and we have kept every event, since day ONE (thanks kafka!)”. This allows us to do a number of things:
Trigger actions based on real time events. An example might be an alert to a customer based on the history of spending when they make a purchase (too many coffees?)
Combine events from multiple sources into new events downstream. So what if we wanted to get some insights to see if there was a connection between how or when people used their apps and how much money they saved? Then we could make some predictions or prompt someone to do something in the app at a certain time.
Aggregate data to support the above (or any other requirement) in any way we want – in ways that are specific to that requirement. This is made easier by using cloud scalability and storage. If requirements change, we change or create new data structures and replay events. Simples!
Generate real time analytics
“In short, event driven architectures – and more specifically event sourcing – bring enormous benefits in flexibility and scalability” concludes Rohan. So what does that all add up to? We don’t know what the answers are yet to helping people make more out of their money. In fact, we don’t even know the questions to ask yet. BUT, event-driven architecture means we’ve got all the data we could possibly need, stored very efficiently, to work out the questions and answers in the future, and act quickly on them.
“In short, event driven architectures…..
bring enormous benefits in flexibility and scalability”
How is Xinja’s architecture different from an old fashioned bank’s?
In a nutshell, the lack of legacy. More specifically (to paraphrase Rohan)
We’re built on cloud – with no on premise data centres (ie: Xinja doesn’t have any big old data centres of its own with all the costs and risks associated with them – instead we use best in class (AWS or Amazon Web Services) to hold everything across its myriad of servers which also ensures security, back up and optimum performance .
We leverage microservice and event sourcing based architectures. This means that we’re able to build solutions with a level of security and reliability that are traditionally only available to the major banks – at a fraction of the cost.
Therefore we are able to invest in solutions that benefit our customers without charging exorbitant fees or interest.
“This also means that we’re able to rapidly roll out new features as we grow and the needs of our customers change,” he continues.
What are the top 3 benefits of Xinja’s tech stack?
Hard to choose! But Rohan’s top 3 when pressed:
Security. (see below)
Speed. Our architectural design (as described above) means that we can rapidly add new features – whether we build them ourselves or incorporate them from third parties.
Insights. The ability to use data in real time to give our customers insights into their financial habits and help them improve them.
Are we doing all of this already? Hell no. But we will. The important thing is – thanks to our architecture – we can.
What about security? How does Xinja’s tech architecture make it so secure?
A subject close to our heart, the principles of our design for security are covered in a recent blog by our CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) here – at the centre of which is ‘zero trust architecture’. This means we design security in from day one (not bolting it on as in a legacy context) and we can quickly secure areas of concern. From Rohan’s perspective, again, zero legacy wins: “Our architecture uses modern cloud based platforms and patterns that allow us to keep all software up to date without massive upgrades or changes. Legacy is minimised and our systems are kept secure.”
We have implemented solutions in months where legacy banks would take years.
Rohan Sharp, Head of Architecture, Xinja Bank
How much faster do you think Xinja can innovate compared to a legacy bank?
Taking this straight from Rohan: “It’s hard to overstate this. We have implemented solutions in months where legacy banks would take years. Yes, that’s a result of our size and scale, we can make decisions quickly. But it’s also a direct result of the fact that our technical landscape is modern, decoupled and simple.”
What was the greatest challenge of the core banking system in the cloud?
In our follow up to a blog we posted about Core Banking for Neos when we first began building, Rohan comments “Our biggest challenge was showing the regulators that we had crystal clear visibility of what those risks were and what controls we needed to put in place to manage them.” Clearly we needed to reassure and also to comply with some pretty serious regulations around Information Security called CPS-234 (feel free to read up on that if that’s what floats your boat!) and whilst this was hard work, it meant we ended up with very high calibre internal processes and operations.
What are some of the challenges Xinja has experienced working with other partners who are not as real time?
We are integrated with a number of partner organisations and during selection we take them through an extensive evaluation process, part of which is to make sure we can work with them technically the way we want to. However, that’s not always 100% possible. So as Rohan points out, in these cases: “We have implemented adapters to third party systems to shield our platform from partner specific challenges. We have found that our microservice and event driven architecture, with AWS scalability, makes it much easier for us to build out these adapter services rather than the partner doing it.” This has worked very well for us and means we can switch to another partner more easily if we need to.
How do you see Xinja architecture evolving?
Rohan comments: “We have a solid digital foundation in place that we will be able to build on over the coming years. As we identify and roll out new features our platform will be built out to support them. It has always been a goal of Xinja to give our customers access to their own data. Open banking is central to this. I look forward to the day that creative fintechs can use Xinja’s services to provide value-added services to our customers – in a highly secure way.” Thanks #sharpiexinja 🙂