Relaunching integrated products and services for an acquired bank

The South African banking sector has been dominated by the big banks for decades for decades. However in 2000 Capitec Bank entered the market and grew rapidly to become the largest bank in term of primary customers in South Africa by 2018. Their success has been largely attributed to their focus on simplicity and exceptional user experience.

As the bank’s customer base grew and matured, clients started to demand more advanced products and services from the bank. This is where Retro Rabbit’s journey with Capitec started.

In 2019 Retro Rabbit was approached by Mercantile Bank (a business bank catering primarily to SME’s) to assist in building out a juristic onboarding platform to allow the bank to perform remote KYC for new customers. Just as the project was finalised and ready to be rolled out into production, Capitec Bank acquired Mercantile and integrated their commercial banking products and services into Capitec.

Retro Rabbit benefited from this acquisition as we were on boarded by Capitec to integrate Mercantile’s back end systems with their core banking platforms and also to re-envision the user experience and rebrand it to be inline with Capitec’s expectations and brand guidelines. The phenomenal work performed by our teams in integrating the business banking portal into the Capitec environment have led to more teams being deployed in other areas at the bank and we are now involved in almost all client facing channels.

Business banking portal

The business banking portal is the main web based digital channel for all Capitec’s juristic clients including companies, trusts, partnerships and sole proprietorships.

The portal covers the whole user journey from onboarding through to self service features and transactional banking. Retro Rabbit was responsible for migrating the old Mercantile Bank features and functionalities over to the Capitec technology stack and ensuring the user experience is inline with the Capitec brand.

This meant we had to define the UX and design the new UI, build out all channel APIs, integrate the API’s into core banking stack and then finally also build the web front end. Given that Capitec is new to business banking there were also instances where we had to build out their core banking platform to provide new previously unsupported functionalities.

This project is a great example of how Retro deploys its broad skills and expertise with an understanding of the fundamentals. Our mastery of core ideas and
methodologies allows us to seamlessly integrate different systems and ensure a successful product delivery.

Business mobile banking app

Once the business banking web portal was done, Retro Rabbit was tasked with launching the same features in a mobile application.

This required Retro to perform extensive UX and UI design and implement the user interface in native mobile application technology to provide a mobile first
user experience. By utilising the channel APIs and core functionality built for the
web portal Retro Rabbit was able to implement the bank’s omni-channel
requirements in record time.


Retro Rabbit’s latest project at Capitec is to build out their forex payment platform.

Since this is a completely new service that the bank is providing to their customers, a lot of work needed to be done. This included building out the front end channels as well as the supporting back end system functionality to support it. This highlights Retro’s ability to work closely with core teams at the bank.

Leveraging our integrated team approach we were able to seamlessly extend core
banking systems, build channel APIs and implement the front end experiences
envisioned by the client. The end result of this project enables all Capitec customers to make payments to foreign beneficiaries whilst sticking to all regulatory and reporting requirements.

Challenges faced

A brief look into the biggest obstacles we encountered and how we overcame them.

Integrating Mercantile bank systems

Integrating Mercantile bank’s systems into Capitec’s technology stack was a complex challenge, as the technology stacks were completely incompatible with each other. Retro Rabbit’s technology agnostic approach assisted, as we had to become familiar with both stacks and recommend changes in the Capitec stack to accommodate Mercantile functionality. The Mercantile bank technology stack was a large monolithic stack, whilst Capitec had a more modern technology stack that utilised micro-services.

Migrating UX from mercantile to Capitec

Migrating the user experience from Mercantile to Capitec proved a massive challenge as the existing Mercantile Bank users had to be moved over to a new platform. Large digitisation projects like this are typically rolled out in multiple phases, where new functionality is gradually introduced whilst the platform is stabilising. This wasn’t an option for this project as the existing Mercantile Bank users could not afford to lose any existing functionality.

Adapting to rapidly changing requirements

For the projects where the bank offered completely new products and service offerings there was a lot of business development that had to be done in conjunction with the development of software solutions. Apart from clarifying business processes and extending core banking systems to cater for the needs of the new solutions we also had to adapt to rapidly changing requirements. This flexibility and agility in delivery is core to Retro’s culture and part of what makes us unique.

Varying maturity of development processes

The maturity of the development processes and practices between Mercantile and Capitec varied wildly. This made implementation especially challenging since our teams had to appease both parties to ensure successful delivery of the projects.

Results achieved

Successfully built and launched the Mercantile Bank juristic onboarding solution within 4 months. The success of this project was a big win for Mercantile and proved that they have the technical capacity to integrate and operate within the Capitec environment

Migrated the Mercantile bank business banking platform onto Capitec’s proprietary omni-channel platform which enabled the bank to roll out new solutions to both juristic and retail customers

Launched the business banking mobile application in 6 months which provides all the functionalities and services that users have become accustomed to in an efficient and secure mobile first banking application

Drastically improved the technical delivery capability of Capitec’s business banking division and grew the delivery team from zero capability to more than 20 team members in under a year

Well where to start, my experience with Retro Rabbit began way back for the Whatsapp Project, I think back then we were all new, but what I appreciated was the Rabbits abilities to jump into any project, regardless of the title that was possessed, provide guidance and also deliver whilst still making work fun. Fast forward to modern day and the projects have many more moving parts, but the approach by Retro has still been the same. Jumping into projects, sometimes blind, but with the same gusto and level of consistency as the past, no project fatigue in sight. My interactions with Retro has been fun, providing solutions to the business, interacting with all members of the team, I've enjoyed the brainstorming and the ability to have healthy conflict.

Avendran Appaduray
Software Development Manager
Capitec Bank

About the author

Theo Crous profile picture

Theo Crous

Theo Crous

I co-founded Retro Rabbit in 2003 with my university friends. In my spare time I like to raise my two kids, drink wine, hit the mountain bike trails and learn how to sail with my beautiful wife. Read more from Theo Crous...