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Financial

Nequi: A Case Study of a Cloud Native Startup's Development and Evolution

Nequi is Colombia's first digital bank. It emerged as a new generation of banking with a mission to leverage technology, enhance customer experience, improve relationships between people and money, and provide a comprehensive solution for customers with no access to branches.

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The Challenge

Nequi was founded in 2016 to become Colombia's and Latin America's first digital bank. The initial goal was to persuade millenials and other demographics to join the financial system and take advantage of a new bank offering with no branches.

Nequi's innovative spirit requires a highly flexible, secure, and scalable architecture from the start and a dependable partner with expertise in innovation, agile development, and cutting-edge software implementations.

We designed the architecture to support millions of transactions. As a result, Nequi needed a cloud-native platform. For this reason, they choose AWS and Pragma as their partners.

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What we did

Pragma and the Nequi team began the project by debating and participating in the platform's service design, gathering consumer insights, and developing the minimum viable product using lean, design thinking, and agile methodologies.

As the solution evolved, the user-centered design approach was critical for conducting additional tests, actively listening to users, and gathering feedback to adapt, modify, and add new features and functionality to Nequi.

Initially, Nequi used application servers to implement the software logic, but we needed to modernize it, creating a microservices and functions architecture. Containers became the spinal cord of the Nequi's platform, along with Lambda to coordinate and handle events.

The need to know the customer accelerated implementing a consistent data and analytics strategy. Also, we used advanced capabilities such as ML and AI to reduce fraud.

Now, the solution incorporates the following technologies and is evolving to integrate additional ones as business demands dictate: 

  • Computing solutions: EC2, Beanstalk
  • Containers and Functions: ECS, ECR Lambda, and Step Functions.
  • Storage and Database: EBS, EFS, S3, Dynamo RDS.
  • Analytical Tools: Kinesis, Athena, Elastic Search, Redshift.
  • Machine Learning: Sagemaker, Rekognition.
  • Solution Migration Tools: DMS, SMS, CloudEndure.
  • Management and Monitoring: Cloudwatch, Cloudtrail, Tower Control, Event Bridge.
  • Security: IAM, Guarduty, KMS, Cognito, WAF
  • Data Transfer and Networking Tools: Direct Connect, Transit Gateway, VPN.
  • Integration Tools: API Gateway, SQS, SNS

Pragma is currently responsible for most of Nequi's software architecture, mobile application, middleware, APIs, security, UI, UX, and agile implementation.

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Results

Nequi has grown from zero to over ten million users in six years and has established itself as a critical player and referent in Colombia and Latin America. It operates in Colombia and Panama at the moment. Nequi began as a digital bank with limited cash in and cash out options and has since expanded to offer a comprehensive banking experience, including savings accounts, loans, credit cards, and other consumer services, including Paypal integration. The use of cloud-native platforms enabled us to deploy new features quickly and accurately, delighting our clients. We are currently developing and delivering new services through agile cycles.

Thanks to containers, Nequi makes faster business decisions and reduces time to market by two-thirds.

Nequi’s primary objective was to create a banking solution for millennials that serves a broader purpose: to assist individuals with no prior experience with financial institutions entering the system. An unexpected community grew, from farmers to small merchants; we help those typically outside the banking system. These solutions make it simple to receive payments and manage income. This shift represented a significant change in the banking system. For years the financial sector tried to bank with these population segments without success, and Nequi did it in a few years, improving people’s lives.

Among Nequi’s numerous awards is the Celent Model Bank 2019 Award for Best Digital Bank, selected from 140 banks worldwide. Nequi was named Latin America’s best digital bank (*Forbes: “Banks of the year” Awards 2020 by LatinFinance). These accomplishments result from Nequi’s team’s dedication to combining talent, technology, and methodologies to improve people’s lives.

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