Enabling In-App SEPA Payments for French Fintech Unicorn Spendesk


Building Spendesk's internal banking system for handling incoming and outgoing payments.
Spendesk case study

About this project

Spendesk, a French fintech, provides spend management solutions for the Europe (EEA), UK and US markets. Netguru worked with Spendesk to deliver an internal banking system for incoming and outgoing payments. The client now has a fully-licensed service that meets the challenge of increasing operational efficiency and reducing bank partner dependency.

Services

Web development
Quality assurance
Project management

Technology

Node.js using koa framework with Typescript Postgres DB, Kafka, Knex query builder, Docker, ArgoCD, Kubernetes
Founded in 2016, Spendesk is a French spend management platform that helps mid-market finance teams manage company spending.

The “7-in-1 spend management solution”, as it calls itself, formalizes numerous internal processes, from corporate cards to invoice payments, expense reimbursements, budgets, approvals, reporting, compliance, and accounting automation – all within a simple and scalable platform.

With a valuation of +€1B, as of January 2022, the startup is one of the latest unicorns to enter the French fintech ecosystem.

Challenges in building a robust payment solution

Looking to become more autonomous and reduce reliance on external providers to execute payments, Spendesk wanted to integrate a payment system into its web app. Established in 2017, SEPA payments enable easy cross-border payments in euros across 36 countries – yet integrating SEPA payments into existing banking infrastructure doesn’t come without its challenges.

To launch the MVP which will enable (among other payment features) full in-house processing of incoming and outgoing payment, Spendesk had to get certified with BPCE PS – a French corporate and investment bank that provides wholesale banking, investment solutions, and specialized financial services.

BPCE PS then had to confirm that the service worked in accordance with SEPA regulations and that all the communication between Bank/BPCE PS was stable and accurate.

During this process, Spendesk also had to verify accounting entries and cross-check them with BPCE PS.

Aside from operating in a highly-regulated environment, building a banking system for handling payments involves complex internal logic. Moreover, to eliminate risks associated with quality or outages, a great deal of specialized testing is required.

3 smartphone screens displaying payment through Spendesk app

Netguru’s role and services provided

Spendesk engaged Netguru to build its internal banking system for handling SEPA incoming and outgoing payments from concept to completion, while its team worked on accounts, card handling, and accounting.

Netguru provided Spendesk with a self-sufficient team of experts who worked in parallel with its teams.

Scope and services:

  • Ongoing tech and Node.js development support for the internal banking system designed to handle incoming and outgoing payments in accordance with SEPA regulations
  • Quality assurance and monitoring within the Payments team
  • Project management services

Netguru’s role during the certification process

  • Preparing a stable testing environment
  • Preparing a testing strategy that corresponded to BPCE PS requirements
  • Verifying the outcome of payment domain processing and creation of accounting events
  • Providing tech and QA support throughout

The ultimate goal was to ensure that no surprises or issues would come up during the certification process.

Team composition:

  • Business partner
  • Account manager
  • Project management lead
  • Project manager
  • Engineering lead
  • Tech lead
  • Node.js developers
  • Quality Assurance specialists

Spendesk payment cards

Results of the collaboration

  • Netguru delivered a working service for handling SEPA incoming and outgoing payments.
  • Spendesk successfully completed the BPCE PS certification process, which brought the business closer to becoming independent from external providers.
  • BPCE PSconfirmed that Spendesk’s service worked in accordance with SEPA regulations and that communication between Bank/BPCE PS was consistently stable and accurate.
  • Before passing the BPCE PS certification process, Spendesk acquired its first BIC and IBAN. As a next step, Spendesk successfully deployed Netguru’s updated code to the production environment and passed BPCE PS verification of the production environment. Spendesk then successfully executed its first outgoing and incoming test payments.
  • Spendesk was provided with a self-organized team of experts ready to handle the project’s technological, strategic, and industry-specific challenges.

Interested in Netguru’s approach to build this product? This is how we did it

To build the internal banking system for handling incoming and outgoing payments in accordance with SEPA regulations, our team of experts ran through a series of steps:

Workshops to understand the product and tech infrastructure

We started with a series of discovery workshops with Spendesk’s product manager and engineering director to understand the existing product and tech infrastructure. This gave us the context to conceptualize the tech solution we were going to build and define how to execute it.

Event Storming sessions

Spendesk directed us to take ownership of the backlog and planning. To achieve this, we conducted Event Storming sessions to map out the product process and match it to the corresponding technical flows. This helped us to identify gaps, bottlenecks, and areas of conflict, as well as discuss solutions.

Based on the diagrams, we built out the backlog with user stories and enriched them with technical details.

Creating a unified product-wide testing strategy

During certification preparations, Spendesk approached us with the task of creating a unified product-wide testing strategy. We organized a workshop to define the requirements and goals, and created a testing strategy accordingly.

To simulate what a real user scenario would look like from start to finish, we also introduced End-to-end (E2E) testing. We started by gathering business requirements from all domains, creating test cases, prioritizing them, categorizing them, and finally implementing them with the use of a Supertest. This helped us to:

  • Reduce the cost and time of regression testing
  • Reduce the risk of issues in business-critical flows making it to production
  • Create a written-down test case set
  • Increase confidence in application quality and monitor overall application health

Additionally, in preparation for the BPCE PS certification, Netguru quality assurance

specialist and the team:

  • Created test cases and implemented them as E2E tests to cover BPCE PS requirements
  • Organized a dry run with Spendesk and the SEPA partner to verify all test cases and artifacts created during the certification process
  • Defined necessary test data to populate the environment with
  • Verified the configuration of the certification environments

Refining MVP functionalities

Post-certification, we focused on remaining tasks related to the MVP functionalities which included:

  • Integrating SEPA Instant payments into a Spendesk’s web app – a new feature that enables euro transactions to be processed in seconds, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • Whitelisting
  • Blacklisting
  • Handling numeral files
  • Screening and monitoring IN and OUT payments – an integration with an anti-money laundering technology provider of API
  • API/SDK for Spendesk SAS
  • Recalls

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