Consumers and businesses today want to interact with their financial accounts quickly and with as little fuss as possible. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is prompting an increase in the number of digital banking users, however, causing challenges for the FIs that must support seamless services at greater volumes. Considerable wait times to speak with banking representatives — as long as three hours, in
some cases — can frustrate customers and send them searching for alternative financial partners.
Banks can utilize various tools to help customers avoid friction-laden experiences, however. Tapping cloud-related container solutions such as Kubernetes can make it easier for FIs to handle increased server volumes without experiencing lag, Andrew Smith, director of technical operations for Finnish banking service Holvi, recently told PYMNTS. Holvi is supported by Spanish FI BBVA and provides online banking tools to solo entrepreneurs and small business owners, a group for which immediate and transparent access to financial accounts is a daily priority to ensure their operations are running smoothly.
“We had a case a couple of weeks ago where we had a [threefold] increase in requests to our server, our service,” Smith said. “And we had no increase in latency in our delivery times, there were no hiccups on the back end for processing the requests, so it was completely invisible to the customers. In that sense, [Kubernetes] provides a very consistent and manageable user experience for [our customers, as] we do not have service interruptions due to increases in load.”
It is becoming more and more critical for banks to smoothly handle surges in customer requests or banking usage on their servers to keep their customers satisfied. This makes it imperative for FIs to offer innovative banking features as well as ensuring consumers can easily interact with them.
Kubernetes' Role In Swift, Secure Banking
Many financial services are turning to fresh technologies to shore up their customer-facing services. Solutions such as Kubernetes help keep financial entities’ server data well-organized, Smith explained, while also simplifying the deployment of any necessary changes to their software so that services can run smoothly.
“What Kubernetes does is it allows you to run these [software applications] in what they call pods, which are clusters [or] groups of containers. that provide a service,” he said. “And with this, it basically makes it really easy to automate the service life cycle, starting off [those] services, scaling the services in the pods as demand increases, deploying new services and keeping the services healthy and happy.”
This also allows FIs to deploy — as well as walk back — incremental changes at speed. Kubernetes can be used to showcase potential service shifts to small groups of customers, Smith explained, enabling financial services providers to study their effectiveness. They can then dismantle these changes or roll them out to rest of their customers based on the initial reception.
“There was a significant amount of time put in, in the early days, of moving to Kubernetes,” Smith said. “But since then, the heavy lifting is done, and it is really small, incremental improvements that are [being] made. [We have] moved our [core banking] services over to being run in Kubernetes. What is left to move are some remaining supporting services, such as custom data tools that allow our customer due diligence team to gather information that … [is used] to answer customer queries or answer questions that are related to auditing or police requests.”
One of Kubernetes’ main benefits is the speed at which it can deploy services and applications, and this is especially important during the pandemic as banking users are more sensitive than normal to friction points. This speed and scalability are likely to be crucial to banks’ operations in the next few years.
The Future Is In The Kubernetes-supported Clouds
Holvi has been migrating its services to Kubernetes for about two and a half years, putting it in a good position to weather many initial pandemic-related digital banking hurdles. The banking service saw a small dip in its new user growth rate for the first few weeks of the health crisis but was quickly able to get back on track to even exceed pre-COVID-19 levels, Smith said. Combining the cloud and container-based solutions can help banks maintain a level of flexibility that those reliant upon rigid, outdated servers simply cannot achieve.
“Certainly, being able to easily scale our infrastructure via Kubernetes and without having to scale out the number of people needed in order to support the infrastructure has been a huge win,” Smith said.
Banks and financial services providers that have not yet migrated to the cloud or have yet to integrate container solutions will likely find it difficult to deploy services at the speeds necessary to keep their customers satisfied and engaged. This means solutions such as Kubernetes are poised to play more significant roles in banking’s future.