Jezen Thomas

Jezen Thomas

CTO & Co-Founder at Supercede. Haskell programmer. Writing about business and software engineering. Working from anywhere.

Bleep. Bloop. I Am Approving Your Transaction.

I used to work at a company that behind the scenes had to use a user interface in a novel way for part of their system to work.

This company’s web-based user interface would allow its users to initiate bank transactions. Nothing would appear out of the ordinary from the user’s end. However, the company had to approve the transactions in real time, synchronously.

The approval was software-based, but in a closed system. The approval mechanism ran in a third-party iOS application, and we couldn’t just run it in a simulator.

The company could do all sorts of programmatic anti-money laundering and fraud prevention verification on the user, the recipient, the transaction, etc., but we had to actually physically press a button on the screen of a smart telephone to approve the transaction. There was no programmatic way around this.

Some programmers at the company came up with a robotic arm attached to a Raspberry Pi that could be controlled programmatically, which would run 24/7 and do the telephone screen pressing for us. If I remember correctly, it was also attached to a small bell, so we received a low-tech kinetic notification in the office for every transaction approval.

I always thought that was pretty clever.