When it comes to making international money transfers, there’s a lot of uncertainty—money seems to move from one country to another in a black box. Iker Marcaide experienced this firsthand in 2008, when he was preparing to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A Spanish national, Marcaide needed to send his tuition through international wire transfer channels to the university, but he found the whole system confusing and opaque. The payment couldn’t be tracked, and with fluctuating exchange rates he had no choice but to wait and hope that the right amount would arrive on time.
To solve the problem, Marcaide founded Flywire, a startup that aims to ensure high-value international payments go through fast and friction free—both for individuals and for institutions (Flywire works with companies in many industries, including from healthcare, education, travel.) The company also looks to enable international payments without a lot of hidden fees. “It’s transparency. You know exactly what the steps are that your money is going to move through,” says one of Flywire’s site reliability engineers, David Lluna. As Flywire grew and acquired companies, the team needed to evolve to support new security and stack requirements. “Developers were already developing in containers and we needed to fill the gap between their local environments and the cloud,” per Jose Luis Salas, another site reliability engineer.
“Managing infrastructure sucks,” says Salas. The company went through a “whole journey” to meet the different engineering demands of different products. AWS Fargate helped them tackle all those needs in a diversity of environments, enabling Flywire to contain different processes in different containers so they don’t conflict with one another. They also found increased security; if something goes wrong in one container, it stays isolated.
Fargate has also provided greater flexibility, giving any developer the ability to spin up infrastructure for a new feature “with a click of a button,” says Salas. “Going with containers and with Fargate has enabled us to handle the velocity with a very not-homogenous pool of stacks of technologies.”
That velocity translates to more features for the client or end user. And developers can be more efficient with internal tooling to smooth over any hiccups when money is sent.
Additionally, Fargate and AWS have helped Flywire reach its compliance goals. As a financial tool, Flywire is required to meet SOC 2 certification guidelines, and AWS makes that compliance easy, with little patching necessary. “We found we’re more secure as AWS is compliant with those certifications,” says Salas. “It’s also possible to do better monitoring for security purposes.”
And Flywire’s engineers can still develop custom code for deploying, but with more support. “Our code can be simpler,” adds Salas. “We are still relying on open source tools, so it’s more community supported than what we had.” That all means less maintenance, too, so the company can dedicate its resources to providing more value rather than managing servers.