Capital One – the technology startup behind the bank

Capital One is a bank holding company, the eighth largest in the United States by number of assets. It’s a huge company handling a large customer base. Most importantly, it’s a company that handles financial transactions, setting it a bit apart from the companies that we presented so far, as large node users. With more than 300 billion dollars in assets and 45.000 employees Capitol One is one of the most important bank holdings in the word.

The technology startup

As a bank and not a technology company you might be wondering why are covering it, what could happen at Capitol that’s so interesting? Well Capital One originally started as a data driven technology company. They revolutionized the credit card industry while still growing as a banking institution. Recently, through the Tech fellows program the company set a big focus on technology and innovation. The Technology Fellows program aims to bring a new level of innovation and expertize to software development. Their tech needs are moving in-house, a big difference from most banks who outsource such services.

Capital One is as much a banking institution as it is a technology startup, one that banks on node.js on multiple levels. With people like Azat Mardan, the author of “Practical node”, Jim Jagielski, the founder of Apache Software and Mitch Pirtle from Joomla, Capital One looks promising in the innovation department. With these additions Capital One is getting serious on software. It’s actually nice to see that such a large business realizes how important software is for its development (no matter the niche that they operate in). Great businesses are built on great software and financial companies have always relied on technology. Having a small IT shop in house or outsourcing the IT part of your business is not enough, it’s complacent and detrimental to business development and customer experience.

With over 5000 engineers, Capitol one has a huge tech house meant not just to maintain their systems, but also to develop new ones.

The Node.js part

Starting with Azat Mardan, the author of Practical Node.js, and an expert of node and JavaScript, the Node shop at Capital One looks bright. They have several teams that use Node.js for several things like:

  • Apis and services

  • Api mocking

  • Orchestration layer  (switching from Java to Node)

  • tools

They’re also using Node for Hygieia, an open source dashboard for DevOps. It started out in 2013 and it uses Node on the build and front end. It’s open source and it won the BlackDuck Source Rookie Award last year.

They choose Node because it allows them to work with the same piece of knowledge on the front and on the back end, to reuse modules and developers. This means smaller teams and a more efficient production.

The facts that they have common ground when it comes to code and information means less overhead for the business. Yes, some projects require teams of pure back end developers and pure front end developers, but right now several Capital One teams work  with “ninjas” (as Azat puts it), people who can do frontend and backend, and also Dev Ops.

“That removes a lot of overhead in communication because now you have fewer people, so you need fewer meetings, and you actually can focus more on the work, instead of just wasting your time.”

Azat Mardan

There are a lot of exciting things happening, in regard to technological development and innovation at Capital One and we’re happy to say that node is very much involved in it. When big banks like these realize how important software is to them and start investing in it as much as a tech company would, you know we’re on the right track.