Celent Model Bank award for Retail Digital Banking

First virtual bank to support both Apple Pay & Google Pay

Strong encryption, biometric login and fraud protection

Main facts:

The development and delivery of cloud-based virtual bank Mox included:

  • Recruiting a diverse Tech team from across diverse skills sets, sectors and mindsets (and over 20 nationalities) to ensure diversity of thought and to challenge the traditional banking culture and assumptions.
  • Embedding agile working/DevOps across the organisation.
  • Identifying and onboarding external partners to help deliver the project.
  • Building a cloud-based microservices architecture and next-generation tech stack from scratch.
  • Developing completely new business and operating models, including redefining the customer onboarding model.
  • Helping to embed a culture of innovation to ensure the long-term sustainable growth of the business.

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GFT is providing us with experienced software engineers and developers who are helping us build the bank from the ground up.*”

La sfida

The global banking sector is shifting. New digital brands are entering the market with vigour and providing customers with more choice, flexibility and greater levels of self-service than branch-dependent traditional names.

The bank’s journey began in 2017 when the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced a series of initiatives to bolster the city’s fintech industry and launch “a new era of smart banking”, including the introduction of virtual banks**.
In 2019, HKMA opened up eight slots for new virtual banks, offering banking services through electronic channels while having no bricks-and-mortar branches. Standard Chartered, a 160-year old leading international bank, with a presence in 60 markets, was quick to ensure it received one of the first approvals and was determined to change the status quo.

With the aim to proactively take on incumbents to grow its market share, the new brand needed to stand out from the crowd. However, with no existing model, skills, tech stack or infrastructure to deliver such an ambitious project, the bank had to put together an entirely new team to achieve what many deemed as impossible.

Working with global technology engineering partner, GFT, the team set out to create a virtual bank from the ground up. This meant building everything from the tech infrastructure, to the business and operating models and culture, entirely from scratch.

The result is a pioneering, scalable, cloud-based virtual bank – ‘Mox’ - that provides retail banking services entirely digitally over its app. Mox is transforming everything from the retail banking customer experience and services to compliance and security, setting a blueprint for challenger banks worldwide.


“We had to be different to stand out from our competitors. Technological innovations would not be enough. Success would depend on us recognising and responding to our clients’ needs for simpler, faster and better banking.”

Deniz Güven, Mox CEO.



The vision was to empower Hong Kong customers to grow and unlock more possibilities by providing a truly digital and personalised banking experience.

The first step, therefore, was to listen to what customers really wanted. Before building, the team reached out to over 2,000 Standard Chartered customers to understand the exiting pain points in the banking journey that they needed to address. This insight underpinned the UX, technology and design to deliver a solution that was effective, trusted, scalable, efficient and attractive to users.

The result was an app-based bank that makes managing money simpler and intuitive, by empowering customers with financial knowledge and providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for all their banking services and lifestyle rewards. This includes goal-oriented spending, shopping calculators and numberless bank cards.

Agile, intuitive delivery

GFT deployed 70 expert engineers, covering cloud engineering, DevOps and microservices, to work with Mox’s in-house team and partners.

With diverse team members and partners dispersed globally, the GFT team had to quickly establish the mindset, structure and ways of working required to ensure seamless project management and communication. As DevOps experts, GFT helped to embed agile methodology and a culture of empowerment and innovation throughout the organisation, enabling the team to deliver the new mobile-only bank in just 18 months – something virtually unheard of in the industry until now.

By helping to create a team of DevOps champions, GFT is also helping to ensure Mox can continue to flex, adapt and pioneer, ensuring its long-term, sustainable growth in this intensely competitive global marketplace.


New technology:

Working alongside the Mox engineers, GFT designed a native bank, operating on Vault – a customised core technology platform from Thought Machine – and deploying it on an Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-based virtual infrastructure, which delivers an integrated banking solution and enabled delivery at pace.

Vault allows clients to create financial products as Python code, using Thought Machine's smart contracts system.

Accessible to nearly any developer, this ultimately gives Mox direct ownership of the products, and the ability to make changes on their own – meaning product updates can be developed and delivered significantly faster than banks operating on legacy technology.

Collaboration and co-creation are the cornerstone of any GFT engagement, and Mox is no exception. Understanding the power of partnership, GFT also helped establish an ecosystem that would allow Mox to harness the latest technology to build a cutting-edge full-stack bank in record time. For example, Mox was built in collaboration with some of the world’s leading organisations and FinTechs and IT consultants. Their customised APIs help to reduce the number of layers in the banking system, and increase speed, security/compliance and accuracy.

Together, they achieved a fast and personalised customer experience, delivered through:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning used to strengthen and streamline anti-money laundering compliance and personalise the customer experience.
  • A near real-time data catalogue on an event-driven architecture, to ensure continuous compliance and strong data governance.
  • Personalisation technologies, including biometric customer onboarding, gamification of brand loyalty via sentiment analysis, machine learning customer segmentation and real-time product funnel data sets to adapt offerings and messaging to the user.

Mox is far more than a mobile platform – it went beyond many other challenger banks by developing an entirely new operating model, including a completely new customer onboarding journey, which can be replicated across markets.


Il vantaggio

Sector-leading customer experience

GFT’s architecture underpins a world-class customer experience that not only addresses the 80+ pain points identified in the customer research, but which also positions Mox at the cutting-edge of virtual banking (including several firsts for the region).

Features include:

  • Open an account in record time: Using a 'selfie' and basic ID, customers can open an account in under three minutes.
  • All-in-one numberless bank cards, enhancing privacy and security.
  • The first virtual bank in Hong Kong to support both Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Security: Strong encryption, biometric login, Lost Wallet and e-Commerce Fraud Protection. Customers can also freeze or activate their card with one tap.
  • Personalisation and engagement: Customers can set up saving goals (Smart Saving) and pay/receive money from anyone, anytime in Hong Kong. They can also track their progress in real-time and use the Savings Calculator to automate saving habits.
  • Monitoring of real-time account activity and balance with instant categorisation (Smart Spending).

Subsequently, customers on average log in to their app 20 times per month and rate the app 4.8/5 in the App Store.

Strong performance

  • The record time for opening a Mox bank account: 2mins 47secs (More than 55 per cent of the accounts were opened outside traditional bank hours)
  • Over 80,000 customers (aged18 to 90+)***
  • 1,500,000+ transactions have been made at over 16,000 merchants around the world with the Mox Card****


* fintechmagazine.com

** multimedia.scmp.com

*** Figures as of February 5, 2021

**** Figures as of February 22, 2021

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Florian Becker

APAC Business Development