Pratiphal
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Pratiphal

On Building an Open Source FinTech Organisation

finCLI logo

Seeing the boom of fintech innovations in the country and the world, a thought stuck inside my head — “what if I could create something in this sector”.

Much of this was due to the craze of seeing Paytm simplifying what once we as Indians used to stood in line waiting for movie ticket booking or electricity bill payment etc. Now UPI which has created even more fan following simplifying payment transfer via one bank account to another bank account. On the merchants end we saw BharatPe which has created more WOW simplifying different QR codes based payment methods into 1.

Simultaneously you also get the feeling is what I’m trying to build already exists? That sometimes act as a big put off for starting any project. Trust me I’ve been there.

I remember profoundly it’s March of 2021, I was working on a CLI(command line interface) project and thought can I add a bit of finance in here. This gave birth to finCLI.

What is finCLI?

if you’re curious about “fin” in small, trust me there’s no bigger fan of camelcase on this planet than me

finCLI started out as a CLI tool with an aim to get developers the latest updates on topics like — Indian Finance, Global Finance, Updates on BTC, ETH and other cryptocurrencies.

finCLI Version 1

Well you might have questions like this is what pretty much every news CLI does?

NOT TRUE.

finCLI v1 used currents-api via which we fetched the latest updates on the internet which were credible too! Since developers mostly interact with CLI tools and text editors I believed this project could help them stay updated with finance topics.

But for how long will your good days last?

currents-api though the best on the internet for latest news fetching but had limited try and believe me we exhausted most of them while project development phase. There was a moment I once wanted to shut down the project seeing no further scope and sole reliance on currents-api. Along with my friend Jofin even searched for some other APIs which could perform the same task but no success!

Then came the moment which led the birth of news-api

It was Diwali holidays and I felt “okay let me try my hands on backend development”. Python Django was the language and framework of choice primarily because of the ease of web scraping. The main idea was to scrap the finance topics less than 1 hour of published and are credible sources. What better way to try Google News!

news-api serves GET request on the following endpoints.

  1. /bitcoin : updates on Bitcoin
  2. /ethereum : updates on Ethereum
  3. /cryptocurrency : updates on Cryptocurrency
  4. /globe : updates on Global Finance
  5. /india : updates on Indian Finance

And this was launched on Diwali 🪔 ! Again marking the significance of this product! I remember what a joyful day it was for me. It wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jofin and Dev. If you’re reading this, thanks guys!

Let me tell you and interesting thing…

here also I fell into despair of building something but due to resource limitation it wouldn’t be into much use

Yep :(

Initial architecture required API to function in this manner —

A person triggers the request which gets saved in CSV format then is retrieved by the API call in JSON format.

This triggering event if you want it to happen in regular intervals because you want latest information then you have to pay for cron jobs or GitHub actions!

Thanks to Jofin we finally shifted the architecture to retrieving updates directly in JSON format without having to store them. Latest updates gets fetched at that same moment.

Give yourself a try here.

Well news-api was a big success which lead me to establish finCLI as an organisation page on GitHub over making it my personal projects.

Giving a Sense of Usability

Days passed by, there was still something missing especially on the usability aspect of the projects around finCLI. We had CLI tool and now backed with our news-api but how many people would actually use it?

Even if people use majority of them would only be developers who would just check up updates which roughly takes <1 minute.

There came finCLI-Chrome to the rescue!

finCLI-Chrome logo

finCLI-Chrome, a Chrome extension which fetches the latest financial updates on Indian Finance, Global Finance and cryptocurrencies. This gave more user experience and usability case(though I hope so :D) over a command line tool.

finCLI-Chrome extension in action

It’s a complete new road walking down on building a Chrome extension esp. fixing the useless CORS error in the API. Some of my friends if you’re reading this you’d know how much you were disturbed by me asking for help in this regard. Also fixing up default margin in CSS, loading JavaScript created HTML elements since news fetched varies in size(less news in early morning around 7:00 hrs IST vs 10:00 hrs IST), I’m happy with support of friends I could complete this project.

Architectural diagram describing relations among finCLI projects

If you’re reading this, I would like to share some key takeaways from this journey of mine -

  1. Be young! One of my seniors Madhav Bahl, always used to stress on building projects, trying out new avenues for finding oneself. What have I found? Well the guy who used to design UI mockups once could now give birth to products in real. Plus also made me interested in product development esp. researching the market-fit for the product.
  2. Never say “NO” at the beginning! I remember working here on NodeJS, Python Django, in backend designing API and never imagined to ever work on Chrome extension as a project. Many of these technologies in start felt to me a huge deal for me and my obvious reaction would be a “NO” or ask some friend who work in this domain to help me. I decided I need to get rid of this habit of mine once and forever. Check!
  3. Never exit the game! I better take this lesson with me :)
    Working on this project one day I found myself so disappointed of not being able to fix the CORS error and there I was like — “why did I even started this project”. The next day, being very honest with a new perspective performing code formatting and removing unwanted parts of the code and boom there’s my code running! It’s all about new perspective and I was thankful of not quitting!

I would like to end this article by sharing a quote by the legend Jack Ma, as he says -

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Hope this article creates a part of value in your life. If you liked reading about my journey please consider praising the article 🌻.

Happy to connect on LinkedIn.

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