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Rafa, Mobile Engineering at Backbase

[email protected]

When I tell people I work at Backbase as a Mobile Engineer, most of the time, they have no idea what that involves. My rehearsed, go-to explanation is: "Backbase is a Dutch Fintech that helps banks in their digital transformation." Still, the complete picture is more complex than that. ‘We give banks the speed and flexibility to orchestrate seamless experiences across any device and deliver measurable business results.’ Even after reading that, I’m sure you still have questions. So, please, bear with me

When I joined Backbase in November 2018, I had a pretty special onboarding experience. Although I was part of the Product Implementation department (or Customer Success), I was assigned to join the Product Development department (or Research and Development). For three months, I worked in the team that developed the, now long outdated, Backbase App, which was implemented based on the Widget Architecture (RIP). When my time in R&D came to an end, I was ready to join CS. CS is known as that department that works on customer projects, solving real-world challenges. In addition, we travel around the globe, meeting customers who use the libraries and tools developed by R&D. I joined CS as part of the European hub, so our customers are mainly from this area. In addition to the hub in Europe (or EMEA), we also have hubs in the US, APAC, UK&I, Toronto , LATAM, and ANZ. In hindsight, I believe that combined experience allowed me the great overview of Backbase that I have now.

At CS, we work in different forms of engagement, from coaching and giving technical support to constructing a fully functional MVP. Depending on the customer's scope, these engagements could last from 3 to more than 12 months. In implementing these solutions, we use deliverables from R&D. For example, we commonly use the Mobile SDK, an in-house developed framework with various tools, including encryption, secure storage, certificate pinning, networking, etc. Working on multiple CS projects helped me better understand how all the pieces connected. 

I also had the chance to work and lead several internal initiatives, which include long or short team projects that benefit our Mobile Chapter and others within Backbase. In our Chapter, we currently have several active initiatives aligned with our goals. These goals help us measure our progress over a half year period. In addition, we lead initiatives to help improve our internal documentation and recruitment processes and are welcoming of the next big idea that can make a significant impact.

  • Bootcamp: is a two-week program that helps recruits (developers and QA engineers) get acquainted with the Journey Architecture. This helps us make our onboarding experience more effective.
  • Workshops: are monthly sessions (per platform) about a particular topic, such as the life cycle in SwiftUI or Android’s Coroutines. Workshops help us upskill and train the team.
  • Trackbase app: is an app built internally with the aim to develop and maintain internal tools and help employees manage their workload allocation in projects. 
  • Variants: command-line tool to set up deployment and working CI/CD set up for mobile projects.

After working at Backbase for a few years now, many people ask me: “why do you love to work at Backbase?” I must say that the answer is not straightforward, and it has changed as the company grew and I started to make more impact around me. I like to say that three main pillars make working at Backbase awesome: the People, the Projects, and the Tech.

The People

Backbase is a multicultural company with people from all over the world. We are over 2000 people and more than 70 different nationalities. I believe that this mix of people is what makes the magic happen. We value our diversity and respect each other’s differences. It’s very common that we have social events, from dinner parties with teammates to sports after work (like football, biking, running) or our famous annual Ski trip, Summer party and End of the Year party.

The Projects

Every project at Backbase is a new challenge. Our business model aims to fulfil as many customers' needs as possible, from retail to business and wealth management. There are customers who want to go fully Backbase Out Of the Box, they would use our Identity, Flow, Remote Config, etc. At the same time, other customers would prefer to have a mix of Backbase OOTB and new custom solutions. This makes every new project an exciting challenge to look ahead to.

The Tech

After a great effort from several teams across Backbase, we left the Widget Architecture behind, favoring the Journey Architecture. I believe this marked a moment of change for the Mobile developer experience at Backbase. While the Widget Architecture was very web-oriented and not much fun for native mobile developers, the Journeys brought to life the fun of developing fully native apps while using the hottest technologies in the market, such as SwiftUI+Combine and Jetpack Compose.

Now that you know what’s excellent about Backbase, you should also be aware of some of the challenges we face. Working with clients is a big part of Backbase’s business, and we have an enormous range of clients from everywhere in the world. I will not lie to you, some customers are tough. Some customers come from a banking background where they utilize traditional methods, and it’s difficult for them to learn about Agile, Scrum, or even how Mobile apps work. But it is our job to guide them in making the best decisions. When this cooperation happens, great things come out of it. However, we don’t only work with clients, we are also a growing global company which faces scalable challenges and works in an efficient cooperation mode. So documentation and transparency, for example, play a significant role in it. If you are up for these kinds of challenges, then Backbase will be a great place for you.

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