SynapseFI: Simplifying Banking For All With MongoDB Atlas

When your mission is to simplify banking and enable other companies to build the best-in-class financial product, you'll need to be fast, flexible and always ready to evolve. That's the business that SynapseFI is in, providing its customers with a wide variety of fast, easy and electronic financial services: sending and receiving payments, opening deposit accounts, white-labeled physical or virtual debit and credit cards, consumer and business loans, and much more. SynapseFI, with its fintech partners, has handled a total of $10 billion in transactions for close to 1.8 million end users to date.

According to its CEO, Sankaet Pathak, MongoDB Atlas has been a big factor in getting to this point. “Outside of MongoDB, if we had to build the same architecture on top of MySQL or PostgreSQL, it would have been close to impossible,” says Pathak.

From first steps to a microservices migration

When SynapseFI launched, it used PostgreSQL on three servers and one load balancer to manage all of its customer and transaction data. However as the company began to scale, it soon realized it needed a different database solution.

“We looked at a number of different databases, and found that relational databases wouldn’t have worked,” Pathak says. “Turning our attention to non-relational options, we looked into Cassandra. However, with Cassandra, you have to define the format of the data before you can write to the database, making it less flexible. Our data was evolving fairly quickly and we needed something freeform and flexible enough to adapt to the data and the speed of development.”

They quickly landed on MongoDB. “We found that MongoDB was very easy to setup and, since we built APIs in JSON, being able to store data in JSON was really convenient,” states Pathak. “We were quickly able to understand how the indexing worked and most of the other concepts around MongoDB.”

“We were nervous that we would have to manually switch all of our databases to Amazon, but Atlas came about at exactly the right time,” Pathak recalls. “We decided to move to MongoDB Atlas on AWS instead of self-hosting because it is more dynamic, requires fewer resources and time to update, and is self-maintained.”

MongoDB Atlas works well with SynapseFI’s microservices architecture because developers are easily able to scrape the data and format it however needed. It allows for manipulation of large chunks of data without necessarily specifying what the fields need to look like in the beginning, saving the SynapseFI developers time and increasing productivity.

This transition, and the change in environment, allowed SynapseFI to increase development dramatically, going from weekly or biweekly cycles to continuous deployment.

“I remember when we started using Atlas, we didn’t have a way to autoscale our storage,” Pathak recalls. “So there was always some nervousness – ‘What if our storage gets filled up and we don’t even know? Do I have to go and monitor that on a regular basis?’ – now it’s just the click of a button.”

“Atlas’ Performance Advisor is also helpful,” he adds. “It makes it easy to identify places for improvement and review how data has changed since the last time a database was indexed. Likewise, the real-time dashboard that Atlas has allows us to see the hottest collection, the slowest queries, and other important metrics.”

Atlas also lets SynapseFI’s engineers focus on just development, instead of database management.

“We don’t expect all of our engineers to know how to deploy and scale clusters, so Atlas ends up being super-great for that,” states Pathak. “We can just focus on building. We don’t have to manage the database clusters on top of that as well.”

Planning for future expansion

Atlas provides a solid foundation for the company by freeing SynapseFI employees from having to worry about database management, says Pathak. “It works reliably in the background so we can focus on developing its API services rather than having to spend time managing API data issues.”

Today, SynapseFI is looking to add new services and markets. “We’re overhauling our node architecture under the hood to ensure it can manage not only a single currency store value, but also a multi-currency store value,” says Pathak. Those changes will allow SynapseFI to offer its customers multi-currency account services or use a debit card to make purchases in either Euros or British pounds.

SynapseFI also recently launched a wallet service for cryptocurrencies which helped pave the way for its development of multi-asset accounts. It expects Atlas to help with the new load balancing requirements that will develop as part of the company’s geographic expansion.