At first consideration, banking may seem like an unlikely focus point for the transformative potential of lean and agile digital technology. Images of cumbersome vaults, grand buildings and long-standing heritage colour the industry’s popular perception. However, whereas once rigid endurance was the measure of a bank’s success, now, particularly in the COVID-19-affected world, the core distinguisher of quality in a leading organisation centres on change and the ability to adapt to it. Launched in 2011, Mambu was created in order to facilitate this operational shift for banking clients using a combination of future-ready tech and a visionary cultural philosophy.
“I always had a passion for combining my interest in technology with something a little bit more broad,” explains Eugene Danilkis, CEO and co-founder. “I wanted to figure out the way people interact with technology and how that information could be employed to design a great user experience, injecting technology in the right parts of the journey.” A computer science major and genuinely passionate about how technology interacts with people, Danilkis gained experience first as a programmer and then as a team lead. It was while working in an interdisciplinary programme at Carnegie Mellon University combining tech design, business and psychology that he determined the value a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform could have in the finance sector. “We realised that giving organisations anywhere in the world a platform upon which they can build and create financial products and digital experiences would have a massive impact.”
What resulted was Mambu: the world’s leading cloud native banking platform, designed to lay the tech infrastructure required for organisations operating in the modern era. Enabling clients to own and focus on the customer experience aspect of their business instead of the technical, the company offers a unique opportunity for banks to upgrade rapidly. “You can configure the platform without having to get developers to customise the application, as you would with a lot of legacy systems,” says Danilkis. “That has a tremendous benefit on the business side; it means if you want to, let’s say, change how your financial products behave, or how you capture customer data, you don't need to go into the nitty gritty of the code.” Because Mambu maintains and manages the platform, the ease of delivery is akin to a subscription service, one where continuous streams of updates are layered in such a way that doesn’t disrupt the end-user’s business. “Effectively, our clients don’t need to invest massive amounts into the projects upfront; they pay for the service as they go, with the option to pay varied amounts for different elements.”
Because Mambu is able to offer banks the opportunity to add their own customer-facing value, it substantially accelerates product time-to-market and enables greater resource allocation agility. However, despite these benefits, Danilkis relates that the initial challenge of the company was overcoming scepticism levelled at cloud, itself a new technology at the time. “Working with banks and banking regulators, we explained that there was actually a reduced risk by running the platform in a public cloud environment versus a local data centre,” he says. “That process was quite transformative for Mambu as a company, because it really opened up the market where, initially, no-one was active in the cloud.” Helping financial institutions realise that ecosystems of resources could fundamentally be stronger than a siloed approach, Danilkis is proud that Mambu was among the first to start challenging the industry’s perception of what cloud could do.
This focus on relationships extends from the macroscopic to the more specific. Mambu prides itself on a highly customer-centric approach; involving business analysts, solutions engineers and product managers at an early stage, it is able to quickly and accurately determine the needs of its clients and their customers. “This includes giving best-practice advice based on the hundreds of projects we've participated in around the world at technical level, as well as introducing them to relevant partners in our technology ecosystem. That experience enables us to determine the best way to use tools, the best way to integrate systems, and the best way to manage change.” Change is a concept so integral to Mambu that it has become one of the company’s core cultural tenets. Aware that modern finance is evolving on a continual basis, Danilkis emphasises that flexibility needs to permeate every aspect. He continues, “Real value lies in a mindset of always learning and always changing, and that goes for individuals as well as the business. Our leadership team doesn't go into conversations assuming that we're right; just because you're a leader at Mambu, that doesn't mean you're automatically more right than anyone else.”
Danilkis states that the company’s philosophy of flexibility coupled with its advanced tech capacities meant that, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, operations managed to continue relatively unabated. By maintaining an open office for those unable to work from home while also supplying equipment and offering flexibility to employees who wanted to work remotely, Mambu was able to focus on helping those struggling with the logistics of the pandemic instead. “We noticed that some customers were struggling and we identified several capabilities that they (banks) could offer their clients to provide a degree of flexibility on their payment terms, such as payment holidays or payment rescheduling. Everything's becoming much more digital, so I think that’s accelerating a lot of different initiatives.”
Indeed, one key digital concept of which Mambu is an ardent proponent is ‘composable banking’ - something Danilkis believes could be the ultimate solution for creating truly agile banking. He explains: “It effectively means that, to really thrive in the current era, where new technologies are coming onto the market and changing the conditions, you have to be able to look for technologies and solutions, either at a technical level or business level, and combine them rapidly to create value for your customer.” Focusing on building for the future and ensuring competitiveness in the long-term instead of simply conforming to current trends, composable banking eliminates rigid vendor architectures and prioritises dynamic ecosystems that can develop optimised solutions fast. “It's essentially the philosophy that ecosystems beat monolithic systems every time,” Danilkis summarises.
The 10 principles of composable banking
Introduced in Mambu’s complete guide, these points capture the essence of the concept succinctly for organisations intent on discovering what composable banking can do for them:
- Ecosystems beat pre-integrated suites
- Start with a composable platform
- Think ‘cloud-first’
- Every component is self-contained
- Everything must be exposed via open APIs
- Building new connectors must be simple and straightforward
- Scaling should be elastic and occur horizontally
- Continuous delivery is better than over-sized updates
- The flexibility of the software must be reflected in the commercials
- Self-service developer experience is essential.
Undeterred by COVID-19, Danilkis is confident that 2021 will be an exciting year for banking and particularly for Mambu. With new product launches and exciting initiatives on the horizon, he anticipates that the company will be able to expand deeper into the markets it currently serves and prepare for launching exciting new services. However, it is the change happening within the industry itself that excites Danilkis the most: a new, digitally-augmented vision of finance is emerging, one which places Mambu at the epicentre of modern banking. Not regarding fintech merely as an industry, he declares that it could actually be considered more of an era, “Fintech is the age we're living in,” he concludes. “I think this decade will be a time when tech companies become critical business partners for how financial services companies are designed and built.” In this vision of the future, tech companies will be part of a rapidly evolving, self-improving ecosystem that creates a platform for building better banking for everyone. With its pioneering approach well-suited to the post-COVID-19 new dynamic, Mambu is sure to occupy a prominent place in that vision.