Unscripted: Q&A with Gonçalo, Senior Software Developer

Gonçalo Neves, Senior Software Developer

You’ve seen the product; now we think it’s time you met the people behind it.

Unscripted is our brand new Q&A series with the tech team at Fidel. In this first instalment, we sat down with Senior Software Developer, Gonçalo Neves. He’s a full-stack engineer based in Lisbon and was our very first hire to Fidel’s tech team back in late 2014.

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Hey Gonçalo! What are you working on at the moment?

My current focus is on improving our merchant onboarding integration with the card schemes (more on that below) and looking at how we scale our team. We’re currently growing our Lisbon base, so it’s important to have processes in place that help our team grow successfully. One of the great things about Fidel is that you can work from pretty much anywhere in the world – we’ve currently got engineers in London, Lisbon, Dubai and Sydney – but it’s important to make sure we’re cohesive as a team.

Sounds like process is pretty important to your success.

It is. Another thing we’ll be improving over the next few months is how we onboard new team members with relevant internal documentation and videos. Having all our documentation in one place, instead of being split across Google Drive and Trello, helps get new hires up to speed as quickly as possible.

On the customer side, we’re looking at how we can improve ticket response times on ZenDesk – we’ll be hiring a dedicated support person to help with that. Ultimately, it’s a live product that customers are using so we have to keep that front of mind with everything that we do.

When people think about engineering they usually think about code and software – but at the end of the day, we’re a team of people building for people! So management, goal setting and process are equally important.

What are your proudest achievements?

I love the fact that I was able to help kickoff Fidel API from the very beginning, and to see it grow as the company entered new markets and welcomed new team members. In terms of contributing to the developer community, I’m most proud of the serverless plugins we created for our stack at Fidel. We were one of the first startups using serverless framework while it was still called Jaws, which is cool. There’s more about that on Github – in general, we’re a pretty active team and like to make sure we’re contributing to open source where we can.

That’s great! Where else do you go for knowledge?

My first port of call is always the rest of the engineering team at Fidel. There’s no hierarchy here – we’re all very open and communicative and here to help each other.

Beyond that, I like to look at what other companies in the same industry are doing. In the payments space, the biggest engineering challenge is being able to handle huge transaction volume, so seeing how other teams approach that can be really helpful. It’s generally good for inspiration to see what other development teams see as bringing value to their customers, and how they deliver that.

So how do you approach the challenge of handling huge volumes?

Scaling’s always tricky for any team, but there are two sides to it here at Fidel.

One is to do with how we process data. All the card schemes (Mastercard, Amex, Visa) that we work with currently use file systems, so we need to keep optimising our processors to enable us to scale effectively over the months and years to come. Most of our stack is FaaS, but since we’re handling very big files with millions of transactions, we need to move to some systems that can deal with greater file size.

The other challenge comes from changes with the card schemes themselves. Visa has just opened up real-time on-boarding and authorisation – previously it could take up to two weeks to onboard a new merchant, but their new Merchant API solution allows us to query their API and add merchants immediately. It’s great for our clients, as it means they’ll now get the same experience and behaviour across all of the card schemes – but it’s quite a big job for us as to seamlessly migrate our clients across to Visa’s Merchant API solution.

And how do you measure success?

It’s always customer-first. When we release a new feature, our key goal is making sure it’s smooth for customers. Adding new features without breaking current customer integration and maintaining integrity is crucial.

Thanks, Gonçalo!