Post Bank – deployment of the WINGS platform and development of communications with customers
About Post Bank
Post Bank is a universal retail bank created by VTB Group and the Russian Post in 2016. The bank is developing a regional network based on its own client centers and Russian Post offices.
By late 2019, Post Bank had over 19,000 service points in 83 regions of Russia. The bank serves more than 14 million customers.
SMS gateway deployment
Before the deployment, Post Bank’s SMS messages to its customers were sent by many of its IT systems, i.e. each system interacted directly with providers. This was a challenge for the bank. Consequently:
Any change at the provider required a change in all the systems;
Development of functionality became labor-intensive due to constant replication.
Diagnosing problems and identifying failure points was difficult;
The absence of end-to-end statistics for all systems made it impossible to analyze traffic and configure the messaging policy.
So, the bank had to deploy the WINGS SMS Gateway (one of the WINGS Notification Server modules), which serves as a single SMS point for all banking systems. After the deployment, all the bank systems switched from the SMS provider to the WINGS SMS gateway. The sender systems interact with the SMS gateway using various protocols: SOAP, HTTP and SMPP, as well as the DB API.
Having a single intra-bank gateway allowed Post Bank to connect to mobile network operators directly, as all connections are established and managed in one point, rather than in many different systems. WINGS SMS gateway allows the bank to fully manage SMS routing between mobile network operators and providers; it supports the ported numbers database for SMS routing depending on the actual operator serving the subscriber's number.
Thanks to the deployment, Post Bank has additionally gained complete freedom from service providers and has significantly cut its SMS costs due to direct integration with operators (no intermediary commissions and service fees).
Email channel deployment
Post Bank actively uses e-mail in communications with clients. The WINGS Notification Server email channel comes with several benefits both for the bank and for its customers. On one hand, the bank's systems can now send emails using existing integration interfaces. On the other hand, WINGS guarantees that bank letters are recognized as letters from a reliable source, so they do not end up in the spam/junk folder.
Switching from SMS to alternative communication channels
With the rising cost of SMS messages, the use of cheaper communication channels has become the most sought-after. So, the bank had to launch mobile Push notifications. The choice of the Push module of the WINGS Notification Server was obvious: sending Push became free for the bank (in contrast to provider services).
A prerequisite for the project was the delivery of an information message to the customer. It was decided to send messages through different channels. For example, if a Push message fails to deliver, the message is resent via SMS. The fallback capability allows transferring the entire flow of SMS messages to free or cheaper communication channels. At the same time, the mechanism is built such that if the customer is unable to receive a mobile Push notification, an SMS message can be sent.
The company worked to increase the number of Push messages delivered to the customer's mobile apps. The higher the delivery rate and the quicker the Push delivery statuses are received, the higher the percentage of SMS that will not be sent, and the higher your savings.
Push messages have wider visualization capabilities. Along with text, they can contain a photo content. This is spectacular, bright, and has a better chance of engaging the customer.
Using events and templates
In Post Bank, the Notification Server is not just a messaging gateway, but an intelligent system for communicating with customers. Since its deployment, the system has been constantly evolving and refining to meet the bank's needs. Today, the Notification Server is fully integrated into the bank's infrastructure and has taken over the functions of selecting a sending channel, generating messages and, if necessary, re-sending via other channels.
The sender systems do not send generated messages to the Notification Server; they send events, under which a message should be generated for the customer. Based on the received event and the notification package connected by the customer, the Notification Server decides whether to send a notification, selects the sending channel, generates the final message according to the template, sends it, monitors the delivery status and, if necessary, re-sends the message via an alternative channel.
So, all communications are managed in one point, thereby facilitating support and simplifying communications with customers for all messaging IT systems in Post Bank.
Building a fault-tolerant and efficient infrastructure
The intra-bank customer notification service is important for the business of any bank. Therefore, reliability and efficiency of customer communication processes are given special attention.
The Notification Server is currently deployed in two environments: online (sends transactional messages) and offline (sends less critical marketing messages). So, bulk marketing messaging cannot affect the sending rate of high-priority messages.
Each of the environments consists of two nodes working in parallel and backing up each other. In addition, if both nodes of the online environment fail, online traffic is automatically switched to the offline environment.
The architecture of the Notification Server is built such that database failure does not affect message sending; there is no direct interaction of application servers with the database. It also provides high message processing speed - 10-20 milliseconds from the moment the notification is received by the Notification Server till the moment it is transmitted to the mobile network operator or messaging provider.
Post Bank's customers and messages sent are constantly growing. The WINGS Notification Server is successfully handling the ever-growing load and providing ample opportunities for further scaling.
We provide Post Bank with 24-hour technical support for the Notification Server in accordance with the bank's SLA.
"Over the years, Wings has established itself as a reliable partner. We look forward to maintaining and fostering our existing business relationship with the company."
— Sergey Chikov, Head of IT Service, Post Bank, Post Bank