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DNB Case Study

2020

DNB, one of the Nordics' biggest and oldest banks, is remaking itself as a “technology company with a banking license.” Its recent rebuild of its mobile banking platform has enabled it to roll out new features at pace and lay the foundations for a cloud-native infrastructure.

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AWS has been a vital part of this, moving us 20 years ahead of where we were.”

Nicolai Rygh
CTO of Personal Banking, DNB

DNB Bank Kickstarts Evolution with AWS

As customers grow more sophisticated, more demanding, and quicker to switch to other banks or FinTechs if their financial institution is not giving them what they need, traditional banks must change or be left behind. After nearly 200 years of operating as a traditional bank, DNB, Norway’s largest financial services group and one of the biggest and oldest banks in the Nordics, is remaking itself as “a technology company with a banking license.”

In 2017 DNB embarked on a journey to become an organization where innovation happens at pace and new services can be rolled out to customers without delay. It started with early experiments with AWS that developed into the steps that would be needed to start doing more.

Although these were seemingly small steps for a large financial institution, DNB had to safeguard the interests of its customers and shareholders and meet regulatory and compliance mandates.

From Traditional Bank to Technology Company

DNB built an AWS Landing Zone to allow the quick and secure creation of a multi-user AWS environment. It also created its own cloud center of excellence. After some testing, convinced that AWS could deliver, DNB turned to AWS for the support needed to completely rebuild its customer-facing applications, starting with mobile banking.

Customer satisfaction with the app had been high for many years, but features had remained static. Eventually, satisfaction fell off as customers, who had grown used to more sophisticated mobile user experiences, were left wanting more. AWS worked collaboratively with DNB and, in the process, DNB learned new ways of working with the technology.

“AWS has been a vital part of this, moving us 20 years ahead of where we were with our mobile banking,” says Nicolai Rygh, CTO of personal banking at DNB. “Now our customers are talking about how they get an updated mobile app every month, and how much it’s evolving.”

DNB chose to build a lean offering, roll it out to customers, and build a richer application through continuous, agile development. Key mobile banking features were on AWS at launch. More complex features from the legacy system were added subsequently. The quick and easy development available with AWS meant capabilities could be added and perfected and new ones rolled out in rapid succession.

The new app has proven a hit with users, growing in capabilities and popularity since its launch in February 2019. Active users increased by 40 percent compared to the on-premises solution. It is now at over 900,000 active users and still growing. In the past, DNB’s mobile banking code wasn’t updated for at least a year or two, explains Rygh. It was stable and there were concerns about disrupting it. But it grew stale and couldn’t meet the needs of customers. Now, using AWS’ mobile reference architecture that includes AWS Lambda, and the continuous integration and delivery tool AWS CodePipeline, DNB can create small components that its teams can develop and publish continually, enabling ongoing updates of the app.

With its mobile banking a success, DNB quickly committed to migrating its internet banking service to AWS. This next evolutionary step represents a challenge as it will require 20,000 pages in DNB’s web platform to migrate from an on-site stack to AWS. And it will need to be flawless. Customers are not tolerant of a bank making mistakes. Churn in financial services is high, with many customers considering all banks to be the same. Changing that mindset is why DNB decided to change its nature.

DNB has chosen Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to ensure customers will notice no difference in services or interruptions to their banking, no matter which stack they ultimately ended up connected to during the migration. As well as speeding up feature release schedules, moving its customer-facing applications to AWS has allowed the bank to cut costs.

DNB has chosen a serverless architecture for its customer-facing applications so it can take advantage of a lean application portfolio that allows the bank to scale up services in times of higher usage, and to wind down when demand is lower. “Now we don’t have to pay upfront for a data center full of hardware ready for Black Friday levels of traffic. Instead, we only consume what we need,” Rygh says. “We wanted to create a platform that was cloud-ready so that we could focus on our customers.”

A Data-Driven Company

Greater cloud adoption is also helping DNB to fulfill its aim of becoming a more data-driven business. The bank has created a data lake that gives it greater insight into its operations and speeds up DNB’s pace of development by giving its data scientists faster access to data than its previous on-premises data warehouse did.

DNB is using these insights to expand the features that it can offer to customers. Running on Amazon S3, Amazon SageMaker, and AWS Glue, its data lake powers its customer insight platform and has allowed DNB to roll out a money management module within its mobile banking app. The app can now analyze customers’ financials to create breakdowns of their expenses.

By highlighting how much customers spend on categories such as clothing or eating out, the app gives them more insight into and control over how they spend their money. The bank is now planning to build additional features for personal finance management on top of the module, including money management advice personalized to individual customers. The company is working with machine learning and SageMaker to evolve these capabilities.

DNB has also put the data lake to work for the benefit of external organizations: it uses the data to predict trends in the Norwegian economy, and assists the country’s central bank and Ministry of Finance with data. The same tools that help it gain insight into customers—Amazon S3, SageMaker, and AWS Glue—have provided critical economic information amid the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Evolution Never Stops

For DNB, greater cloud adoption has allowed the bank to refocus away from providing infrastructure. It’s a transition that not only means greater cost optimization for the bank through a more elastic infrastructure, but also transforms what the bank can provide to its customers.

Now that the evolutionary journey has started, the company is looking forward to the future. “We have moved from theoretical cloud journey to being cloud-first. Now we don’t have to worry about infrastructure, we’re able to focus just on the customer-facing applications,” Rygh says.

DNB at the 2019 AWS Stockholm Summit

Nicolai Rygh, CTO of personal banking at DNB, explains why the bank moved away from its monolithic application and chose AWS to build its new mobile banking app.


About DNB

DNB is Norway’s largest financial services group, offering a full range of services including loans, savings, advisory services, and insurance and pension products for retail and corporate customers.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduced costs
  • Shorter development cycles
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Deeper data insights

AWS Services Used

AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. You pay only for the compute time you consume.

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Amazon EKS

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) is a fully managed Kubernetes service. Customers such as Intel, Snap, Intuit, GoDaddy, and Autodesk trust EKS to run their most sensitive and mission critical applications because of its security, reliability, and scalability.

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Amazon RDS for MySQL

MySQL is the world's most popular open source relational database and Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale MySQL deployments in the cloud. With Amazon RDS, you can deploy scalable MySQL servers in minutes with cost-efficient and resizable hardware capacity.

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Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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