Migrating to the public cloud can reduce the effort spent on infrastructure and improve your delivery pipeline, argues Raisin’s Gerhard Köstler.
Berlin-based fintech company Raisin recently launched its savings platform in Ireland, explaining that it felt Irish customers were missing out on competitive interest rates for their savings and earning significantly less on their money than they could be.
Customers may laud the increased convenience of digital finance, yet it brings a whole host of complex security problems for companies and consumers to consider. Here, Raisin’s CTO Gerhard Köstler discusses his role, the benefits of containerisation, the root causes of security breaches and more.
‘We decided to make a disruptive step and migrate all of our systems into the public cloud’
— GERHARD KÖSTLER
Tell me about your own role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy?
As CTO I’m driving the tech strategy of Raisin. This includes responsibility for the engineering team and delivery processes, the technical operations of our systems, IT security, and planning the architecture and tech evolution of how Raisin delivers values to its customers and partners.
Of course, this can’t and shouldn’t be a one-man show. Instead, I love working with strong teams. It’s also important to me that the tech organisation is strongly interlocked with the product and UX teams and has a clear view on customer needs and is participating in product discovery and design.
Are you spearheading any major product/IT initiatives you can tell us about?
Raisin had been operating its financial services in a more traditional data centre set-up for years as this was pretty much mandated by regulatory boundaries. Last year – based on recent changes in regulation – we decided to make a disruptive step and migrate all of our systems into the public cloud.
We just successfully concluded this migration, which included a complete containerisation of our application landscape and using Kubernetes for container orchestration.
As a result, we were able to massively reduce the effort we spend in infrastructure and to significantly improve our delivery pipeline. This gives the tech team more room to focus on business processes, markets and user experience.
How big is your team? Do you outsource where possible?
My team currently has more than 70 members and is growing fast. Instead of outsourcing, we try to use SaaS services and ready-made solutions where possible. I have always been a ‘buy, don’t build’ guy, and a strong proponent of open-source software.
What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?
As a fintech company, Raisin’s business in its essence is built on technology and digital processes. Our business model wouldn’t even make sense without it. So, for us, digital transformation does not only mean to move traditional business to the internet, but also to create something completely new.
By nature, we are very open to new technology but try to choose it wisely and based on clear business needs and on what does the job best. Integrating with more than 80 banks also means that you better meet them where they stand technologically and find intelligent solutions for them instead of trying to change the world.
What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?
One of the big trends in our industry is the disintermediation of financial services and the rise of marketplaces. In other words, the rise of companies offering specialised, superior services and products while cutting out intermediaries.
This trend is obviously fuelled by technology, heavy use of data and digitisation of processes. The financial sector is quite late following this trend – we have seen this much earlier in other verticals like retail and commerce – but the effect might be even bigger as the ‘goods’ that are traded are mostly non-physical anyway.
In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?
Security starts small with basic hygiene like data encryption, patching, constantly monitoring and applying a lot of common sense. Many security breaches have been due to rather trivial root causes. Of course, having done the groundwork is just the starting point but you can progress from there based on an in-depth defence strategy.
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