Open Financial Technologies consolidates to cut errors by 90%
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decrease in errors
reduction in MTTR for high urgency incidents
drop in daily data ingest
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As Asia’s first neo-banking platform, Open Financial Technologies - commonly known as Open - offers a business account that enables small business owners to collect payments, auto-reconcile them, and make seamless pay-outs. It also offers additional tools designed exclusively for businesses, such as an integrated payment gateway, automated accounting and expense management.
Despite much progress in recent decades, millions of people in India still lack access to formal banking. There are 190 million adults who do not have a bank account, and cash is king in urban and rural centres. Thankfully, the tide is starting to turn thanks to Open.
While banking was once the realm of brick-and-mortar institutions, neo-banks focus on mobile-first solutions, flexibility and accessibility. They offer small business owners, start-ups and individuals once excluded from traditional banks, access to curated services without the need to visit a physical branch.
In just three short years, Open went from processing over US$1 billion in transactions in 2018 to over US$24 billion in 2021, and in 2022 it became India’s 100th unicorn. With Grant Thornton Bharat’s Banking Matrix report showing that India's neo-banking market is expected to reach US$11.65 billion in value by 2025, Open’s success looks set to continue.
Challenge: Multiple toolsets and manual monitoring
Open’s rapid growth in a market where fintech start-ups come and go is nothing short of meteoric, but the business soon realised that it was under-equipped for the road that lay ahead.
Sharmila Kumar was managing an engineering team that was reliant on manual monitoring and using a hodgepodge of tools for infrastructure, security and log management. They were flying blind and unable to analyse traffic levels. As a result, the Associate Director of Engineering said that customers would often be the ones to call out issues related to products or features.
“If our site went down, we had no clear way to identify the necessary metrics to show the availability of our applications, which meant that upper management was unable to see the cause of an issue,” recalls Sharmila.
Open needed a trusted partner to create complete visibility across its infrastructure and eliminate blind spots. It undertook an industry-wide review for an all-in-one product; choosing New Relic as its observability partner for its world-class observability solution and consumption pricing model. It ran a proof-of-concept with Datadog but uncovered that it would have been double the price of New Relic.
“We had so much data that was going unmonitored, which meant that there was enormous benefit to be gained from using New Relic. We were able to take the insights it provided to enhance the customer experience and application availability. Today, New Relic is a tool we cannot live without.”
Solution: All-in-one observability
During the rollout, the New Relic account team worked closely with Open to test all features. As a result, Open has one observability solution for all critical applications and APIs, creating visibility in a single place.
With access to over 500 integrations for cloud services, enterprise technologies and open source tools, Sharmila points to the partnership prowess of New Relic as essential for a swift rollout.
“Other tools that I’ve used in the past needed a lot of scripting and additional support, but New Relic was simple to use and we were able to have everything in place within a month, including a standard dashboard and monitoring system,” she says.
“We integrated with Slack and PagerDuty and tweaked the prioritisation of alerts. As a result, we were sent automated reports on a weekly basis which included the error rate along with other data points.”
Sharmila’s team have been able to build tailored New Relic dashboards for its DevOps teams and upper management alike. Additionally, New Relic alerts have enabled Open to take immediate action when issues emerge.
“We all know how frustrating it can be to wait for an app to load, which is why it was so helpful when New Relic alerted us to an issue with application latency. We were able to add a notification to our site to advise customers that we were working on fixing the issue. It kept them informed instead of in the dark,” says Sharmila.
Thanks to having a greater understanding of its traffic, Open has been able to remove duplicate data and accurately categorise alerts. This has seen a drop in ingest by 2.3 terabytes daily and 80 percent of alerts that were incorrectly repeated and marked as critical have been properly categorised.
Open has also cut errors by 90 percent, and reduced mean time to repair (MTTR) by 97% for high-urgency incidents.
Impact: A single source of truth
Using New Relic to standardise observability at Open has created a single source of truth based on real-time data.
Sharmila readily credits the New Relic support team for being “always available” and working in close conjunction with her in order to get the most value out of the technology.
“The New Relic team keeps watch on whether we’re exceeding our data limits - and provides solutions - unlike other vendors who are mainly profit driven. They take the initiative and have created trust and a personal connection with us which is very important. New Relic absolutely has our back,” says Sharmila.
The improvements New Relic has created have had a dramatic impact on the wider business, with Open’s technology team undergoing an extensive DevOps transformation, breaking down team siloes and establishing a site reliability engineering (SRE) function.
“New Relic has become a business-critical tool, and its team is constantly punching above its weight. It plays a very crucial role in identifying if our systems are up and running or whether we need to address a situation so it doesn’t deteriorate.
“Thanks to New Relic, observability is no longer an afterthought; it’s baked into our DNA. It’s far from set and forget. It’s about getting the data, doing the analysis and fine-tuning. It’s what we require to move forward and stay competitive in a crowded market,” says Sharmila.
Vijay Sriram, VP of Engineering at Open Financial Technologies, echoes Sharmila’s sentiments, saying that New Relic has been crucial to his technology team.
“New Relic has been at the core of helping us monitor our applications, infrastructure, uptime and dependencies in a simple way and with seamless integration into other tools including Slack and PagerDuty. We have been able to consolidate all of our technology tools into one which has enabled us to improve our span of monitoring, reduce MTTD and MTTR significantly and provide a crisper, cleaner view of systems health via dashboards to our leadership,” says Vijay.