Vietnamese bank builds the country’s first cloud-native mobile banking app on Azure

 |   Microsoft Vietnam Communications

Vietnam International Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VIB) has a decades-long track record of providing innovative, customer-centric service in Vietnam. The bank was one of the first one in the region to move to digital banking, and in 2021, worked with Microsoft to deploy a multi-cloud ecosystem (the first in Vietnam’s banking sector). An Azure cloud now hosts many VIB applications, including MyVIB 2.0, Vietnam’s first cloud-native mobile banking application.

Vietnam International Joint Stock Commercial Bank (VIB) has been a leader in the Vietnamese banking sector for more than 26 years. The bank’s 10,000 employees currently serve more than four million customers via 178 branches and transaction offices across the country.

To keep up with the global shift towards digital banking, VIB began accelerating the bank’s pace of innovation and creating valuable new services to meet customers’ banking needs. When the world faced the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, VIB’s digitalization enabled the bank to ensure continuous operations and provide seamless online transactions to customers. “The pandemic highlighted the urgency of being more available to customers via digital channels, particularly for younger users who use technology for everyday activities,” explains Tran Nhat Minh, Deputy CEO cum CIO at VIB.

Joining hands to innovate

The bank decided to migrate to a multi-cloud ecosystem. The new solution had to be agile, scalable, and offer the ability to optimize costs.

Having used Microsoft products for many years, VIB knew the company had the experience to provide the comprehensive technology solutions that the bank required. This fell in line with VIB’s ‘Best IT’ strategy which aims to build relationships with top technology solutions to accomplish customers’ needs.

“Since we were the first bank in Vietnam to deploy a multi-cloud strategy, we were glad to have Microsoft’s expertise. It helped us establish a breakthrough in service speed and innovation,” explains Tran. Across the globe, more than 80 percent of the largest banks and 75 percent of financial institutions use Azure—this shows how trusted the brand has become in the industry and how suitable the brand is to partner not just with VIB but also with other corporate leaders when it comes to digitalization.

After signing an MOU with Microsoft in 2021, VIB deployed the new solution. This included Microsoft Sentinel to improve security, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, Azure Kubernetes Service for high performance in the app and databases, and Azure DevOps to increase productivity. “We started migrating many applications to Azure and went live with Vietnam’s first cloud-native mobile banking app in May 2022,” says Tran. “The team at Microsoft spent time training our staff to be cloud-savvy before go-live,” says Tran. “In fact, we now have about 300 VIB personnel who still attend cloud computing training courses held by Microsoft. This will help us increase the in-house expertise we need for the future.”

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Personalizing digital banking

VIB’s digital banking solution, MyVIB 2.0, was also hosted on Azure to offer customers the freedom to do banking on the go. “Microsoft has helped us optimize MyVIB2.0,” says Tran. “MyVIB 2.0 is the first cloud-native mobile banking app in Vietnam. Digital channels account for more than 93 percent of VIB customers’ transactions, and MyVIB 2.0 takes an important place in this proportion, which shows how valuable it is to our customers.”

To ensure MyVIB 2.0 would offer uninterrupted banking services to customers, it combines many micro-services via a modular design. This means repairing one service will not disrupt the functionality of others. “We can also make changes or updates to the app instantly and multiple times a day if necessary. During these windows, users can continue to use the app with minimal issues,” says Tran. This aligns with the bank’s three strategic pillars of being mobile-first, cloud-first, and AI-first.

Users can now experience the same level of personalized service with MyVIB2.0, as they would when visiting a bank. The app includes an augmented reality (AR) feature that provides more interesting financial experiences for our customers. “Users can access many financial features on AR. For example, customers can conduct transactions using voice commands via a Virtual Assistant AI voice banking service. It’s more convenient and just as effective,” says Tran.

Guaranteeing high-security standards

A key benefit of moving to the cloud is upgraded security for VIB’s data. Microsoft Sentinel’s 50+ security certificates now ensure 24/7 security monitoring and quick backup and recovery of redundant data of VIB’s critical business applications on the cloud.

“We are able to guarantee a superior level of security for customers, where all users need to be authorized and authenticated before gaining access to files and data,” says Tran. “This strengthens our security against ransomware and cybersecurity threats because we can assign different levels of access requirements according to specific tasks.”

VIB can also easily maintain the level of security it requires based on users’ needs with the cloud. “We no longer rely on security packages that take 12 months to deploy and need to be renewed every five years. On the cloud, we can make changes in one or two days according to the current demands,” explains Tran.

Scaling IT capabilities on demand

Migrating to a cloud solution meant VIB has significantly decreased investing money or man-hours to procure, install, and test traditional servers. There is also increased flexibility to scale up when needed. “If we need to expand our server capacity, we just need to write one line of code and a server will be ready about a minute later,” says Tran. “This entire process of purchasing and installing servers, storage, and network of data center used to take anywhere from a few months to about a year to complete. On the cloud, everything now takes two weeks at most, which has saved us a lot of time.”

Being on the cloud has also enabled VIB to scale its IT expenses, moving from a CapEx to an OpEx cost model. Instead of spending money on infrastructure, the company now pays on the go according to the cloud services it needs, whether it’s extra server capacity and storage or more security.

Shifting to a multi-cloud solution is merely the first phase in VIB’s ten-year digital transformation roadmap. The next step will include modernizing the bank’s computing workloads in this new environment, boosting network security, and starting projects on Big Data, AI (Artificial Intelligence), IoT (Internet of Things), and more. “Our priority has always been to be the most innovative and customer-centric bank in the nation. Applying modern technology in our operations is what will help us accomplish this,” concludes Tran.