Global fintech company Airwallex meets customer needs faster with GitLab
Airwallex, a global financial platform, uses GitLab’s AI-powered, end-to-end DevSecOps platform to expand its business and meet customer requests faster, outmaneuvering competitors.
Airwallex is a leading global financial platform for modern businesses, offering trusted solutions to manage everything from payments, to treasury and spend management, and embedded finance. Founded in Melbourne, Airwallex supports more than 100,000 businesses around the world, and is trusted by brands like Brex, Rippling, Navan, Qantas, and SHEIN.
Beating competitors to win a new customer
Airwallex runs a financial platform that has become a global economic infrastructure, supporting organizations of all sizes by offering multi-currency business accounts, local and international transfers, and foreign currency exchanges. Building its customer base is critical for the young company, so when executives had a chance to bring on a leading airline carrier as a high-profile customer in 2022, they were under pressure to prove they could meet the airline’s needs in order to gain its business. That meant providing the company with a set of software features better and faster than their competitors could. With the help of the GitLab DevSecOps Platform, that’s exactly what they did. This leading airline now is an Airwallex customer.
“To win that customer’s business, we actually had to build quite a bit of services to deliver features that they wanted,” says Andy Chow, technology chief of staff at Airwallex. “They had a lot of requirements, so there was a lot of work we had to do, a lot of new features to build. The DevSecOps platform gave our software development teams the ability to collaborate and to iterate quickly to get it all done.”
As part of its partnership with Airwallex, the airline’s data-driven business arm, which powers customer and partner fidelity, worked with the tech company to launch a global payments platform designed to make international business payments cost-effective, simple and rewarding. It initially launched to more than 350,000 small- and medium-size businesses.
“GitLab enabled us to prove ourselves to this customer on a tight deadline and that was critical,” says Chow.
Partnering with Google Cloud and GitLab
A young company, Airwallex has been looking to grow its user base and become an even bigger player in the market. To help them do just that, they began working with Google Cloud to deliver high-availability services Airwallex needs to support a 24-hour-a-day business. By using Google Cloud and the GitLab DevSecOps Platform, the fintech company has the tools it needs to create and run a reliable and secure IT infrastructure and a well-established international network.
For instance, with the GitLab CI/CD pipeline running on and integrating with Google’s global cloud platform, Airwallex has seamless support for various services, like international money transfers. And running GitLab on the Google Kubernetes Engine provides the fintech company with scalability and reliability.
“We had to find platforms that could support our ambitions. GitLab and Google Cloud make a very good pair for that,” says Chow. “Thanks to Airwallex's partnership with these two platforms, we have been able to develop a payment infrastructure that is scalable, enhances our performance, and provides a seamless user experience. And the collaboration is ongoing and continues to prioritize innovative solutions, security, and user satisfaction. The partnership meets our business needs.”
Amitabh Jacob, Google Cloud's director of APAC Technology & ISV Partnerships, expressed enthusiasm about deepening ties with GitLab to offer robust, end-to-end software supply chain security solutions for clients like Airwallex. "In today's fast-paced environment, businesses need to speed up their software delivery without compromising security to stay ahead of the competition," says Jacob. "I'm thrilled that our collaboration with GitLab enables us to meet this critical need for Airwallex."
Gaining speed with DevSecOps
When it comes to using an end-to-end DevSecOps platform, Airwallex benefits because it enables more seamless collaboration between teams, which allows for the company to increase delivery speed while also being more cost efficient.
Part of what is speeding development and deployment is the testing automation features built into GitLab. These capabilities generally mean 30 to 40 minutes less hands-on time per task for the development and deployment teams, according to Cathy He, engineering manager at Airwallex. When you multiply that by hundreds of engineers and projects, that is a lot of time saved.
“For the business, it's important we have GitLab,” says He. “When we are able to tell a customer we can deliver faster than one of our competitors can, they’re far more likely to sign up with us. Time to market is critical to sales and it makes our customers happier.”
Taming a complex toolchain
Before adopting GitLab’s platform in 2019, Airwallex had more than a dozen DevOps tools in its toolchain, including GitHub, Jenkins, Spinnaker, Sonatype, New Relic, and Vault. It was a lengthy toolchain that resulted in cumbersome workflows and a lot of maintenance. Chow notes that a basic job like handling version updates became repetitive, time-intensive and difficult to wrangle when the update had to be done on multiple tools.
“We couldn’t just update something once and be done,” he says. “People had to do the same thing over and over again. Having one platform to work with and update just makes sense.”
Airwallex is moving to fully replace its code repository and CI/CD systems with GitLab’s platform, and they’re well on their way to meeting that goal. In five months, the software development teams were able to complete the migration from GitHub to GitLab. Over a longer period of time, they were then able to drop Jenkins and Spinnaker. Now they’re looking to let go of package and artifact management tools next.
Cutting down the toolchain was a way to better manage costs for Airwallex, especially at a time of rapid growth for the company. “Using GitLab makes a lot of sense because now we’re not paying for other services that can be handled on the one platform. We are reducing our costs, while centralizing our work in one place,” says Chow.
Healing a fractured environment
Having a complex toolchain wasn’t just costing Airwallex money and efficiency. It was creating a fractured development environment that was impeding collaboration, slowing production, and scattering repositories and templates across tools, making them hard to find and often forgotten or lost.
“Before we moved to GitLab, everything was split up so it was difficult for developers to find anything they needed,” says Chow. “People just chose the tools they were familiar with. That made it difficult for people to work together, isolating teams. It got really messy really quickly in that fractured environment. We needed to bring everyone together.”
Since fixing that, Airwallex has been able to:
- Improve collaboration
- Increase production speed
- Make repositories more easily discoverable
- Provide team members and executives with visibility into projects throughout the software development lifecycle
- Onboard engineers and developers more easily and quickly because they don’t have to learn multiple tools
Building with AI
Now Airwallex is looking to use GitLab’s AI features, like GitLab Duo Code Suggestions, which uses generative AI to recommend code during software development. Code Suggestions enables developers to complete an entire line of code with one keystroke, fill in boilerplate code, or generate tests.
“I think it will change how people write code,” says Chow. “But we’re also excited for all the ways GitLab is using AI beyond code suggestions. We’re looking at even more automation, reviews, configurations, test generation, bug finding, and even offloading operational work. I’m thinking AI can help us reduce our workload.”
Using the GitLab platform gives Airwallex capabilities the company simply didn’t have before and its DevSecOps teams are looking to continue with that. “GitLab brings us a good balance between velocity and quality,” says Chow. “When we deploy, we’re doing it with a lot of confidence.”
All information and persons involved in case study are accurate at the time of publication.