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HomeCloud ComputingStartup Highnote builds end-to-end embedded finance platform on Google Cloud

Startup Highnote builds end-to-end embedded finance platform on Google Cloud

The ability to quickly introduce and evolve payment options for products or services is essential for businesses, as nearly50% of consumers who can’t use a preferred payment method abandon their purchase. At the same time, gift cards, branded credit cards and rewards programs are critical tools that companies rely on to build more loyal and lasting customer relationships. With Highnote, companies have an all-in-one embedded platform to quickly create payment cards and wallets, offer innovative rewards programs and credit, and provide sustainable wage access. It is the first platform that allows enterprises to make card issuance an embedded capability of their product without creating an entirely new (and costly) organization. 

Creating an exciting fintech future with Google Cloud

When thinking about building the industry’s first end-to-end embedded finance platform, we quickly realized Highnote would only be successful if it enabled companies to truly innovate and quickly roll out new programs. To do so, the platform would have to be built on scalable infrastructure capable of securely delivering services with speed and reliability while offering easy access to actionable Big Data analytics.

Working closely with the team at the Google for Startups Cloud Program, we successfully implementedGoogle Cloud as a versatile, future-proof foundation of our platform—and built Highnote from the ground up in just one year. Highnote’s GraphQL-based API platform reinvents the card issuance process. Utilizing the developer-friendly Highnote platform, product and engineering teams at digital enterprises of all sizes can easily and efficiently embed virtual and physical payment cards (commercial and consumer prepaid, debit, credit, and charge), ledger, and wallet capabilities into their existing products. This creates compelling value while growing revenue and building a unique and differentiated brand. 

We leverageCloud Spanner,BigQuery, andGoogle Kubernetes Engine (GKE) to create a unified and highly secure PCI DSS-compliant platform with GraphQL APIs that provide rapid and flexible money transfers. This gives us a reliable platform to deliver and test customer experiences, respond to outcomes, and make better business decisions. Powered by Google Cloud, our data models and application domains are architected to support configurations and customizations that unlock a diverse set of new use cases across industries, including retail, travel, logistics, healthcare, and sustainable wage access programs.

We are especially proud to highlight our enablement of sustainable wage access, as this program helps the 50% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. Embedding this program within payroll systems provides a viable alternative to payday lenders who often charge exorbitant fees and interest rates. In real world terms, this means Highnote helps people access earned wages before payday at no cost. 

The other customer we just went live with was Tillful, and their Tillful card helps small businesses build their business credit. This program will help new and emerging businesses as well as underrepresented owners of small businesses by making the credit ecosystem accessible. Highnote’s platform is designed to support multiple use cases across many industries. For example, we also help the trucking and logistics companies to develop fleet and fuel cards, and spend management companies who are looking to uplevel offerings. 

Delivering high-performance transactions with Cloud Spanner

Building one of the world’s most modern card platforms would not have been possible withoutCloud Spanner. We needed a solution that would keep our massive petabyte databases from buckling and more securely deliver data anywhere in the U.S. Cloud Spanner does all this and more, as it routinely connects purchases from millions of customers to tens of thousands of vendors. We also wanted to reduce overhead by 80% by eliminating manual sharding, partitioning, and optimization of data. These processes are automatic with Cloud Spanner so we can operate at maximum efficiency. 

We specifically selected Cloud Spanner as our distributed SQL database management and storage solution because of its outstanding availability, zero plan maintenance downtime, security certifications, and the highest consistency guarantees of any scale-out database. We continue to optimally scale without any downtime or compromises to the integrity or security of our data. This is key for us because we can address unexpected spikes, long-term growth, and new services without costly rearchitecting.

Highnote is designed to perform over billions of transactions on Cloud Spanner, and the average latency of less than 250 ms is a testament to the robustness of Google Cloud services.

Enabling actionable customer insights at scale

BigQuery is another key Google Cloud solution that we rely on to deliver deep insights and visibility for our customers on a highly secure and scalable platform. When building Highnote, we knew we needed a cost-effective solution that excelled at data analytics. This is particularly critical for accurately measuring the performance—whether profitability or efficacy—of any program or card.

Using BigQuery, we successfully run analytics at scale with as much as a 34% lower three-year TCO than cloud data warehouse alternatives. Over the past year, BigQuery has enabled our customers to unlock data-rich capabilities with a ledger that tracks money in real time and serves up complete debit and credit entries for every event across their accounts. Companies also access real time balances for revenue, fees, customer accounts, and available funds management without complicated spreadsheets.

To quickly and efficiently roll out Highnote to our customers, we needed a simple way to automatically deploy, scale, and manage Kubernetes. When selecting a Kubernetes management tool, our top priorities were rapidly spinning up and securely scaling across multiple sites. As part of Google Cloud’s expansive ecosystem,Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) was the top choice due to seamless and automatic Kubernetes scaling and management.

We quickly got off the ground with single-click clusters and scaled up by using the high-availability control plane—including multi-zonal and regional clusters—to easily accommodate multiple active-active regions (which other solutions cannot do). As an embedded finance platform, stringent security protocols were obviously a key consideration for us. GKE is secure by default and runs routine vulnerability scans of container images and data encryption. Further security assistance was provided by Google Cloud partners 66degrees and DoiT International to help us rapidly validate VPC PCI compliance and ensure the uninterrupted performance of thousands of transactions per second. 

Winning in fintech with Google for Startups

Building the industry’s first end-to-end embedded finance platform would have been extremely challenging without the extensive Google Cloud support. By working closely with our Startups team and Google partners, we had access to Google Cloud services to more easily validate VPC PCI compliance and address most issues before we exited stealth. Their responsiveness is incredible and stands out compared to support services we’ve seen from other technology providers.

Our participation in the Google for Startups Cloud program has been instrumental to our success. With Google Cloud, we are making embedded payments accessible to our customers without a big budget price tag. By doing so, we help unleash the creativity of emerging enterprises by enabling them to innovate with payment services and rewards programs to reach new markets and customers. If companies can dream, we can enable them to realize it on Highnote. Our platform really is that flexible. We’re excited where we can go and grow with Google Cloud.

If you want to learn more about how Google Cloud can help your startup, visit our pagehere to get more information about our program, and sign up for our communications to get a look at our community activities, digital events, special offers, and more

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