Case study

“In this day and age, if a mobile banking app is down, the bank is basically down”

Shiwaforce blends technology expertise with agile delivery to help new Hungarian superbank move core banking applications to the cloud.

“On a more practical level, we had to make sure that there would be an up-and-running mobile banking app, cash register system and frontend interface so MBH Bank could successfully get off the ground. The timeline for all that? Three months”

Csaba Lenkey

Senior Information Technology Manager, MBH Bank

25%

overall market share

2 million

overall market share

560

branches

9,600

employees

EUR 27,48 Million

balance sheet total

The Story

The spring of 2023 saw the completion of a much buzzed-about triple merger between Budapest Bank, MKB Bank and Takarékbank, three major players in the Hungarian banking industry. The newly formed entity, MBH Bank, immediately became Hungary’s second biggest banking group in terms of balance sheet total as well as the operator of the country’s largest branch and ATM network. But it had no plans of sitting on its laurels. Instead, it set out to completely redefine what digital customer experience means in the world of banking.

The Challenge

With a merger of this magnitude at hand, Csaba Lenkey, senior information technology manager at MBH Bank, and his team had their work cut out for them. Their task was two-pronged. There was a big-picture need to bring three core banking systems onto a single platform that not only ticked the merging companies’ boxes for usability, compliance and flexibility but also supported the new entity’s ambition to reimagine its product and service offering for the digital experience economy post-fusion. 

What the transition would mean for the banks’ customers, however, was a more imminent matter of concern.

“We knew we were in for an integration journey that was going to be long, complex and as much a cultural change as a technological one,” explains Csaba. “But on a more practical level, we had to make sure that there would be an up-and-running mobile banking app, cash register system and frontend interface so MBH Bank could successfully get off the ground.” The timeline for all that? Three months
– less than what it normally takes to build a new mobile banking app, let alone the whole digital backbone of a superbank.

The Solution

In the fall of 2022, the decision was reached that the new entity would run on Red Hat OpenShift, a Kubernetes-based hybrid cloud application platform for building and scaling containerized applications. Facing an extremely tight migration schedule and an in-house developer shortage, Csaba and his colleagues turned to Shiwaforce for help. “We’d worked with Shiwaforce on several frontend development projects before and appreciated what they could bring to the table in terms of knowledge, experience and manpower.” 

A few short weeks and a greenlit implementation roadmap later, the first workshops were fast underway to get the merging entities’ IT staff up to speed and engaged as they navigated the transition. Preparing for application deployment was a key priority, as was ensuring interoperability between systems of varying age and functionality. Thus, Shiwaforce experts delivered a series of workshops and set up war rooms for application developers and bankside IT security specialists to share information, updates, concerns and ideas.

Parallel running was another crucial goal for the project. “In this day and age, if a mobile banking app is down, the bank is basically down,” points out Olivér Nagy, DevOps product owner at Shiwaforce, who coordinated the integration efforts, including daily collaboration and communication, between the three entities from the get-go. Two servers were used to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the mobile banking app, and the CI/CD pipeline was designed to allow for the support of both the existing and the new infrastructure.

The Result

Following the implementation roadmap laid out by Shiwaforce, MBH Bank moved to Openshift without any major disruptions. Whenever an unexpected issue emerged, the project team was quick to react, make decisions and resolve it before it turned into a roadblock to successful delivery. Olivér recalls, “We were in daily contact with all three banks’ IT staff to pool and sort information as well as to work out conflicts by exploring what caused them and how we could move forward.” This meant that Shiwaforce’s expertise in technology, agile development and training was equally important in driving project outcomes.

The agile mindset played a crucial role from the very beginning, requiring a focused yet flexible approach to tasks. Quick-and-dirty module versions were sometimes deployed and later switched for the final build to cut wait times and make sure that there was no single workflow that could bring the whole project to a halt. With the mobile banking app, the biggest question was how fast it can launch and how often builds needed to be updated. “We deployed over a hundred versions in just a few months. New packages and fixes still drop on a daily basis. This can only be achieved with a well-planned DevOps strategy,” explains Olivér.

Technology and delivery management aside, aligning developers from three different financial institutions presented another exciting challenge. The workshops run by Shiwaforce not only provided a platform for team members to work out technical problems but also fostered discussions about how to improve collaboration to achieve a common goal. Csaba says, “I’ve been managing development projects in banking for over a decade, and I often see how people who work side by side live on completely different planets. In this case, it was inspiring to witness how everyone had pulled together for success.”

Overall, Csaba reckons, the project’s completion largely hinged on a deep understanding of software development, the latest DevOps thinking as well as the inner workings of the banking industry as a whole. Shiwaforce, he added, delivered all of these. “We received invaluable support throughout. This, along with continuous and assertive communication and a step-by-step approach to project delivery, made it possible for us to meet such a strict deadline. Swift decision-making as well. Dragged-out decisions can easily derail a project like this, but, thanks to careful planning, that wasn’t the case here.”

The results speak for themselves

After 20+ years with Central Europe’s leading IT and Telco stakeholders, we gathered a few instructive and inspirative stories worth sharing with those who are brave enough to dream big.