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Building a new online payment system for Schibsted

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Building a new online payment system for Schibsted

Guest post by John Einar Sandvand, Chief Communications Officer at Schibsted Tech Polska.

With companies in more than 30 countries, Schibsted Media Group every year reaches more than 200 million people through its services. Most of them are people using a classified ad site, such as the Swedish Blocket.se or the French Leboincoin.fr.

Billions of payments are taking place between this huge group of people as they use the services from Schibsted. But so far the transactions have been handled individually by each site and their local payment partners.

No longer – soon they will be handled in a central, common payment infrastructure for the whole group.

(In the photo at top are five of the programmers in Krakow working on the new payment system. From left: Marcin Godyn, Jan Gurda, Marcin Koziej, Jakub Bibro and Dariusz Nowak.)

The goal: simplicity for the user

At Schibsted Tech Polska in Krakow and Schibsted Products and Technology in Oslo a team of senior developers is working hard to build a completely new payment system for Schibsted Media Group. The payment system may eventually be rolled out to all Schibsted companies around the world.

"We want to make it as simple as possible for our users to pay," says Claes Bergsten, the tech lead for the project.

It is a huge task – and technically challenging for the developers. Bergsten explains that the new solution will solve two problems:

  • It will handle online payments on all Schibsted sites.
  • It will provide an easy peer-to-peer payment system, making it simple for individuals to pay for products they buy from other users.

Access to transaction data

Every day millions of people buy and sell goods using one of the classified sites of Schibsted Media Group. But so far the sites have not had a role in the actual transactions.

"By building our own payment system we also get insight into the actual transactions, for instance if a product advertised on our sites was actually sold and for how much," says Bergsten.

The data can be used in many different ways, he points out. It can help the services become smarter and serve the end users better, for instance by proposing price levels on goods for sale based on previous transactions. Users can be better segmented and the classified sites more personalized.

Schibsted has been granted an e-money license in Norway, which permits the solution to be used in all countries in the EU. That include the permission to include a digital wallet and escrow account in the solution.

Jan Gurda, Jakub Bibro and Marcin Koziej are three of the developers on the payment team.Jan Gurda, Jakub Bibro and Marcin Koziej are three of the developers on the payment team.One of many common-platform projects

Building a payment system is a huge and complicated project, with many opportunities to fail. For Schibsted Media Group it is one of many projects to build common platforms for all its sites.

"It is really an interesting project to be part of as a programmer. There is a lot of new stuff, like new technologies, new architecture and new use of Java. And it is a project where we only have functional restraints. It is up to us to find the best technical solution," says Marcin Godyn, leader of the team in Krakow.

Senior developer Jan Gurda adds, "I participated in a few Java conferences in my previous job. We heard a lot about new trends like use of clouds, containers and microservices, and I remember asking myself who has time to code like that. Who can afford such high coding standards? And now – after a year at Schibsted Tech Polska – I see that all we heard about on those conferences is what we are actually doing in our daily work! We are not afraid to try new things! It makes me very happy to be part of this – and sad every Friday when the weekend is coming."

How it will work

The new payment system will be a gateway among all the various Schibsted companies and the numerous different payment solutions.The new payment system will be a gateway among all the various Schibsted companies and the numerous different payment solutions.The payment system is developed as a gateway among Schibsted´s sites and numerous different payment providers, acquirers and solutions. But it also includes a digital wallet for peer-to-peer payment, including an escrow account.

"Our ambition is to support the most important and widely adopted payment methods in each local market, but in a consistent way. To do this we build an API that is situated between the payment providers and our different sites. The API includes adapters to the payment providers. We develop the adapters, but it only has to be done once for each payment provider. Our sites can then cherry-pick payment methods they want to support on their sites – and no extra work is needed on their part," explains Bergsten.

"Because we can negotiate terms on group level, based on group volume, this gives us very competitive prices from the payment providers," he says.

Distributed team

The development team for Schibsted´s new payment platform works on a fully distributed basis. In Krakow is a team of eight software developers, while four developers and two infrastructure specialists are based in Oslo, Norway.

Tech lead Bergsten says they use an adjusted Scrum/Kanban methodology in the daily work. All developers work on the same backlog, no matter where they are located.

"We have daily stand-up [video meetings], but no roles in the team. All are software engineers. We put a lot of focus on quality control, and all engineers take part in checking the work of their colleagues," says Bergsten.

Working in a distributed team is never easy, believes senior developer Gurda: "In my experience it requires lots of meetings and frequent contact. That is why we meet daily and often have follow-up meetings as well."

A quality station next to the team monitors the status of all the services built.A quality station next to the team monitors the status of all the services built.Long roadmap

The payment team offers a common payment infrastructure for online and mobile transactions, with support of card-on-file to be used across Schibsted sites. This is now being rolled out in the Nordics and for Leboncoin in France. Later it will be rolled out to the other sites in Europe and to other continents.

The peer-to-peer payment solution has recently been launched on a small part of Finn.no, Norway´s largest classified ad site with about 2.5 million unique users every week.

The first version supports direct transfers for low-price items or for people who meet. The next step is to ad escrow functionality to handle distance transactions where sellers ship the product to the buyer. The escrow will work as a trusted third party that holds the money while the product is in transit.

The plan is to deliver to Blocket in Sweden next and later roll out to the various classified sites in Europe.

First launch of peer-to-peer payment

The peer-to-peer payment solution has now been launched on a small part of Finn.no, Norway´s largest classified ad site with about 2.5 million unique users every week. The next step is to add escrow accounts and later roll out to the various classified sites in Europe.

"There is a strict roadmap for the next six months. But all the ambitious plans give us more than enough to do for at least the next 2-3 years," says Godyn.

We asked him, "Does it scare you that as many as 200 million people may end up using the solution you build?"

Godyn's answer: "No, it does not scare us. But it is challenging, for sure!"

New colleagues wanted

The payment team is searching for new developers both in Krakow and Oslo.

"We are looking for skilled people who care for what he/she does, learns new things, develops his/her skills continuously and who does not compromise on quality," says Gurda.

> For additional technical details, please see the original version of this post.


 John Einar SandvandJohn Einar SandvandAbout Schibsted Tech Polska

  • Programming hub in Krakow and Gdansk with about 165 employees, almost all software engineers.
  • Works together with 18 partners in Norway and Sweden, most of them part of Schibsted Media Group.
  • All of Schibsted´s media houses in Scandinavia today have their own software development teams in Schibsted Tech Polska. This includes leading media houses like VG and Aftenposten in Norway and Aftonbladet and Svenska Dagbladet in Sweden.

More at http://www.schibsted.pl/.

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Date

2016-01-26 12:00

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