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Travelex solves Supercard registration headache on AWS cloud for under £1,000

Tamlin Magee | July 12, 2016
The Supercard is a Travelex cash card and accompanying app that works in ATMs around the world, to remove bank fees and charges when making transactions abroad.

The Supercard is a Travelex cash card and accompanying app that works in ATMs around the world, to remove bank fees and charges when making transactions abroad.

When its systems fell over, leaving thousands of customers in the lurch, the currency company realised it needed something more reliable - and chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver the registration system, 'Superqueue', which "basically creates an infinitely scalable buffer" on the customers on the frontend, and was tested to over 400,000 transactions an hour.

According to global director of products at Travelex, Dave Wascha, not only was AWS way ahead of the competition, but it was also the most reassuring choice for the trade and financial regulators.

"Of the big global technology companies, Amazon is one of the few that isn't under investigation," says Wascha. "It's absolutely a consideration that it's a trusted brand for regulators. You see a lot more financial institutions moving workloads into the cloud, but a year ago it was harder - we needed to go with something that was really trusted."

"We knew that we needed a technology stack and a supplier that allowed us to address opportunities like this," says Wascha. "There's probably going to be a short spike in traffic, and we don't need to do a massive capital outlay to stack up the data centre, to account for traffic that might last a week or two and then die down, leaving idle hardware sitting in a data centre somewhere."

Travelex has been operating for about four decades - a bricks-and-mortar retailer that has woken up to the necessity of not just doing digital, but becoming a digital company. That's no simple task for a business that's got over 1,800 stores in 30 countries.

"We're undergoing a digital transformation - as much as I hate that phrase, it's actually what's happening," says Wascha. "It's a company that sells paper: it happens to be kings and queens that are on that paper, but they sell paper. So we're undergoing a digital transformation and moving from being a bricks and mortar retailer to being a technology company."

Because of this relatively recent shift towards digital, Travelex was able to explore all the options and with a clean slate. It looked at the various cloud providers, as well as the merits of on-premises versus the cloud to support the registration system.

Ultimately, it went for AWS. Wascha says that as little as a year ago, it was clearly ahead of the pack for doing business - in technological maturity and reputation, plus the in-house developers liked it too.

"We were looking for something that gave us flexibility, gave us speed to market, the economics were favourable," says Wascha.

 

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