Together we found the right balance
In 1998 Keytrade Bank was founded as the first online broker in Belgium and it was a great success. Accessing financial markets is an expensive process for retail investors, which shouldn’t be the case since all services are available online for free. It was just a matter of making them easily accessible and manageable, and this is exactly what Keytrade did. This ‘enablement’ and ‘empowering’ philosophy is what still drives Keytrade Bank today.
After a couple of years the company got a full banking license and they became Keytrade Bank. Today the online bank has just merged with Fortuneo, servicing 300,000 clients. With no physical bank branches, the Keytrade Bank website is the only access point for these clients, and it was in need of some serious refurbishing.
Vincent Questiaux, CTO at Keytrade Bank, explains why the time had come for a new online banking and trading platform: “We want to give our clients the right tools to do all their banking, trading and investments themselves, and enjoy full autonomy. The Shop Foundation platform we have been using for years started to become insufficient and a tad unstructured. Over time you add new features, you change some things, but the overall structure remains the same, so chaos and complexity were lurking around the corner. It was time to rethink our platform from scratch.”
For this business-critical project Keytrade Bank chose icapps as their technology partner, because of their experience and ability to think along and accompany the bank from the concept and design phase until the development and follow-up. Vincent Questiaux: “It was really a matter of give and take. You can’t just change everything, there’s several features our clients really love, so we wanted to keep these. At the same time you have to be bold enough to make some drastic changes to make the platform modern and future-proof. Together with icapps we managed to find the right balance."
Deep-dive into the context
The biggest success factor was time. Keytrade Bank determined from the very beginning that they weren’t going to rush things. Their online banking platform Shop Foundation is critical for the user experience, so they took their time to listen to clients and take all contextual elements into consideration. “The icapps team immediately understood this way of working, and they took their time to deep-dive into the context, understand clients, determine the platform’s strengths and weaknesses. They also provided valuable (anonymous) feedback as to what works at other financial institutions. When we mixed this experience with the feedback from our own users, on what they love and what needs to be kept, we could start designing the new Shop Foundation.”
Taking your time does however not mean that we took it slowly. We used an agile way of working. The icapps scrum master makes sure the scrum framework is respected. He coordinates daily standups, regular scrum meetings and he takes away any ‘blockers’ that would obstruct the team in finishing a task. Overall he looks after a guaranteed quality and delivery.
There are about 6 to 8 icappsers working on this project, together with several Keytrade Bank employees, both on the UX and the development side. This complete mix of people (icapps-Keytrade Bank, UX-dev) imposed some challenges but it was a great way to bridge ideas and determine the right priorities. “To fully enjoy these advantages, we had to find a balance between the business and the technology side,” says Vincent Questiaux. “The business might have a lot of great ideas, but as CTO you have to manage expectations. Some things are just not feasible and technically too challenging, time-consuming or risky to guarantee a smooth operation of the platform.”
Pick the right technology: React
Although the revamp of the Shop Foundation is a UX project, there’s an important technical basis. One of the reasons Keytrade Bank chose icapps, was the proof of concept (PoC) they did with React. It soon became clear that this was the right technology and hence the way to go.
Vincent Questiaux: “The choice for React had two big reasons. First of all the user experience is great, people loved it. And secondly React is future-proof. It enables us to use the same source code for both the web and mobile platforms, while today web and mobile are very fragmented. Thanks to React we now have a technology foundation that can be shared between platforms, which will also force the different development teams to work more closely together, share experiences and ultimately save lots of time.”
What's next? React Native as a time- and money-saver
Since January the new Shop Foundation has been deployed for 5,000 of our customers, to collect feedback, experiences and fix any outstanding issues. “I have to say the reactions are extremely positive. At first we were a bit worried that there might be some performance hiccups, because of the more complex backend, but that’s absolutely not the case. If all keeps going well, we will start migrating all of our clients by June,” says Vincent Questiaux.
This does not mean that the project is over though. “We will continue our successful collaboration with icapps. There’s still a lot of work to be done. A big portion of the website will still have to be migrated, and there’s many operations to tackle that were not part of the first project’s scoop, like placing trades for example. And then of course there are the mobile apps. Right now icapps is doing a PoC to determine whether React Native is the way to go. We look forward to continue using future-proof technology to empower users and build a seamless experience, ” concludes Vincent Questiaux.
We’d be happy to tell you more about our work, as well as the possibilities for your organization.