StashAway Expands Wealth Management Platform on AWS
A Data-Driven Investment Framework
Cash is still king in most Asian countries. According to the Allianz Global Wealth Report, a majority of financial wealth in Asia—about 45 percent—is held in cash. In the US, that number is 13.5 percent. Many individuals, however, are seeking an avenue for investing in capital markets that doesn’t require huge upfront sums. Based in Singapore, StashAway offers a full range of financial products to clients from around the world. It launched the StashAway app in 2017 to serve these clients, using a data-driven investment framework to personalize portfolios according to clients’ assets, time horizon, and risk preferences.
With a goal to become the most client-centric wealth manager in the Asia Pacific region, StashAway must constantly innovate and improve its products based on user feedback. Having infrastructure in place that allows teams to quickly and affordably conduct testing is essential to making that possible. The startup sought a cloud provider with a clear costing structure and regional infrastructure footprint, including country-specific regulatory experts who could advise on compliance as it expands operations.
AWS’s high availability, redundancy, and low latency ensure that StashAway’s app and services are continuously operating.”
Due Diligence and Data Privacy
StashAway chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) for its experience in working with financial institutions and expertise in industry regulations. “AWS has attained the most security and compliance certifications, including ISO 27001, PCI DSS, OSPAR, and SOC 2. This enables us to confidently expand internationally and build compliant applications,” says Nino Ulsamer, chief technology officer at StashAway.
In November 2018, the company launched its app and services in Malaysia, just one year after launching in Singapore. “AWS’s country-specific experts were able to answer all our Malaysia-related data privacy and regulatory questions,” Ulsamer says. “Its regional infrastructure footprint and experience in working with regional regulators on public policy, legal, and security compliance supported StashAway’s app and services expansion into Malaysia.”
As a financial institution regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, StashAway must conduct extensive due diligence on all vendors and have strong internal controls in place to ensure that vendor relationships comply with the Personal Data Protection Act and similar rulings in other countries. As a result, the company has implemented fine-grained authorization controls such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) and AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) to help protect against external intrusions or unauthorized access. Ulsamer says, “AWS offers strong encryption capabilities and automatically detects security incidents to provide remediation steps in real time.”
Simpler, More Secure Container Management
The StashAway app was built using containers and Kubernetes. The IT team values containerized technology for its portability, scalability, and straightforward approach to minimizing resource costs. When they learned about Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS), they decided to migrate from a do-it-yourself approach to Amazon EKS to simplify container management and bolster security. “Amazon EKS also ensures that no single person is able to unilaterally control our servers,” Ulsamer explains.
Since shifting to Amazon EKS, the IT team has reported constant availability, so the StashAway app never goes offline. “AWS’s high availability, redundancy, and low latency ensure that StashAway’s app and services are continuously operating and always accessible to users,” says Ulsamer.
Low-Cost Testing Environments
R&D is at the heart of StashAway’s innovation agenda. One of the benefits of being on the AWS Cloud is the ease of setting up user acceptance testing (UAT) environments. In designing the Malaysian version of the app, developers had to make some changes to its backend systems to accommodate localized operational and financial trading processes. The team was able to efficiently test-drive solutions in separate UAT environments on AWS to find the right fit to process deposits, transfer across accounts, and execute trades.
The ease of building and taking down these environments has significantly reduced development time. Setting up a completely new UAT environment now takes four to five hours, compared to the previous figure of eight or more hours.
StashAway is also spending up to 90 percent less on infrastructure for new products in both its UAT and production environments. It achieves this by strategically employing Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances. Ulsamer explains, “Typically, companies set up a UAT environment with fewer servers or reduced resources to cut cost. However, a scaled-down UAT environment does not effectively represent the scaling issues that may arise in a production environment. By taking advantage of Amazon EC2 Spot Instances, StashAway can conduct R&D with the same number of testing computers and puts the testing environment through the same rigor as the live app.”
Accelerated Product Development
StashAway’s mission is to make it simple and cost-effective for anyone to invest intelligently. Because it can conduct R&D at a low cost, these savings are passed on to clients. Anyone can open a global portfolio with no minimum balance and annual fees from as low as 0.2 to 0.8 percent.
The company is now furthering its regional expansion plans and continues to launch new products regularly. For instance, StashAway launched two new products in three months, including a Singapore Focused Income portfolio and a leading-edge cash management solution. “These innovations are a direct result of the ease of working on the AWS Cloud,” Ulsamer concludes. “The team can now focus on accelerating product development and improving user experience.”
To learn more, visit AWS for FinTech.
StashAway is a digital wealth management platform that allows individuals to invest intelligently with no minimum upfront sum. Headquartered in Singapore, StashAway’s data-driven financial products are also available to clients in Malaysia. The company is currently expanding operations in the Asia Pacific region.
Benefits of AWS
- Receives country-specific advice to ensure regulatory compliance
- Reduces development time from 8 to 4 hours
- Cuts infrastructure costs by up to 90%
- Facilitates innovation with testing environments that are easy to build and take down
- Simplifies container management and bolsters security
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