Even a Mobile App Can Have a Stepsibling

Notebooks and tablets are a thing of the past in Asia – this continent lives off smart phones. As a result, Indonesia’s Home Credit faced the necessity of having its own mobile application about three years ago. And pronto.


“The entire local business is heading towards the mobile world,” says Štěpán Kareš, the Head of IT in Jakarta. It was decided that the teams in Home Credit’s individual country markets should develop such tools for communication with customers on their own. The major differences between these markets were one of the reasons.

“It was a huge challenge for all countries. We hired our first Android developer in January 2017 and we had the first production version of the mobile application by March. In an extremely short timeframe, we were able to turn a minimalist version into reality,” Štěpán explains.

Russia was a great inspiration; it was one of the first markets where Home Credit used a mobile application. Štěpán worked there himself years ago. “We could not copy everything from Russia directly, so we initially built our own app that looked like a stepsibling of the Russian one,” he remembers.

The mobile solution was also made quickly thanks to a highly agile approach to software development, used in Indonesia’s IT for the first time. “We made a team of five key people, appointed a product owner from the business side, and soon after that we produced an operational product,” Štěpán says. Since then, he says, agile software development is all they use at Home Credit in Indonesia.

Štěpán considers the creation of the mobile app to be one of the milestones of his long tenure in Indonesia. “What did it bring us? Our very existence! It currently covers 70% of the basic business such as loan provision,” says Štěpán.

The application has logged 12 million total downloads and 7million unique users as of today. And by now, 200,000 people use it every day.

The demand for software quality corresponds to these figures. “Any student can make a system for 300,000 users, but a system for 20 million users, now that’s a different story,” Štěpán says. It is primarily about good quality, purity and correct architecture of the code. Simply put, when two systems interact and one of them responds to the other’s query in a matter of a second instead of a millisecond with a queue of 500 requests per minute, that is a problem. Communication starts to drag because it is not designed correctly and the application freezes. “This is why we place great emphasis on stability, and that’s not simple,” Štěpán notes. Over time, developers go back to certain items and redo them, learning from their experience.

The mobile application is by far not the only task that the IT Department with 350 employees has to tackle. “We need our capacity and technological prowess to be on such a level where it allows us to do a lot of things at the same time. It is not about launching one attractive technology; in fact, it is about the ability to do 20 things at once and quickly, out of which just one may turn out to be the one that makes all the difference,” explains Štěpán.