minden.ai: Rewarding shoppers and retailers with a secure mobile app
monthly active users within 100 days from launch
productivity improved, saving time and resources
successful v1.0 big bang launch
- Rewarding shoppers every time they spend
- A solution that brings confidence to engineers
- Boosting stakeholder confidence with a strong reputation
- Enabling a successful big bang launch
- Building on AI capabilities and expanding regionally
minden.ai built yuu, an app that rewards users with cashback every time they spend at participating merchants across Singapore. From groceries to entertainment, yuu is a “rewards club” that gives back to both shoppers and merchants at every interaction.
With security being a day zero concern for minden.ai when developing the yuu app, Okta was chosen because of its long-standing reputation as an industry-leader in cloud security. By partnering with experts in identity security, the minden.ai team could focus on building the app with confidence, knowing that a key challenge was already being taken care of. Furthermore, with a range of security APIs already in place, integrating with partner merchants’ existing stack was seamless.
Beyond the technology and solutions, minden.ai chose to go with Okta as their security platform because of its trusted reputation in the industry, which gives the yuu team more weight when doing stakeholder management. From communicating with the internal management to passing security audits and vetting for partnerships, the team could quickly onboard merchants without hassle.
Deciding to go with a big bang launch in itself was a bold approach for minden.ai, more so when two months upon launch, the largest shopping season of the year begins. With multifactor authentication, minden.ai was able to add a layer of security for every yuu app user, while keeping the app experience a truly rewarding one with a passwordless login for seamless point collection.
Upon the successful launch of yuu, minden.ai is working on ways to further improve the app, incorporating artificial intelligence for an even better user experience. By leaning on Okta to support its security infrastructure, engineers at minden.ai can spend more time focusing on other important aspects of the business to grow their reach across the region.
I knew Okta was our solution due to its robust architecture. More importantly, I was looking for a platform with great developer and engineering experience because my role is to ensure that engineers get the best experience for maximum productivity, so when I make technology choices, I always think about how tools can support engineer productivity.
Zhihao Lin, Head of Product, Engineering and Data, minden.ai
Rewarding shoppers for every dollar spent
People love rewards. With that in mind, Singaporean technology venture minden.ai, led by Head of Product, Engineering and Data, Zhihao Lin, built the yuu app with a mission to unify every purchase reward in a single loyalty platform. Coined “Singapore’s Best Rewards Club Ever,” Lin says, “Our product vision is to make sure that every interaction is rewarding. This extends to both the customer and merchant.”
Lin and his team started writing the first line of code back in 2020, and two years later, the first version of the app made waves with a Big Bang launch in October 2022. From supermarkets to pharmacies, even when purchasing tickets to the zoo, the yuu app gives cashback for users when they scan the app for points. Users can then redeem the points collected at these partner merchants the next time they make a payment. “We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to be rewarded for their engagement with merchants, who are our partners.”
Building a secure, trusted platform for the masses
While the app may seem simple and straightforward on the front end, there were a few major challenges that Lin’s team had to tackle, right from the start. “The plan was to launch version 1.0 big bang, and that in itself was a huge challenge for the engineers working on this project. Because instead of a gradual ramp-up, where we could continue tweaking the app as the number of users increased, a big bang launch doesn’t give us that luxury,” explains Lin. Furthermore, minden.ai’s vision for the app was to eventually scale beyond Singapore into the APAC region.
Importantly, launching an app to be downloaded by the general public meant that people would be entrusting their personal data to minden.ai, so security was always top-of-mind, right from the start. Lin says, “Security has always been a day zero concern for us. We expected many consumers to sign up and onboard very quickly upon launch, and in 100 days we saw more than a million registered members.”
To achieve a seamless consumer experience, minden.ai had to integrate yuu with different partners and merchants across industries, from retailers to financial institutions, even government organizations. This posed a challenge from a project management standpoint, as the team had to ensure that everyone met the same timelines. At the same time, the security infrastructure had to be airtight, while enabling users to sign up in the most frictionless way possible. “We were very clear that we needed a robust authentication and authorization tool, and right from the start, we weighed out the differences between whether to build our own, or buy,” says Lin.
minden.ai decided to deploy Okta because of its comprehensive approach and long-standing reputation. “Having been in this field for many years, I knew Okta was our solution due to its robust architecture,” says Lin. “More importantly, I was looking for a platform with great developer and engineering experience because my role is to ensure that engineers get the best experience for maximum productivity, so when I make technology choices, I always think about how tools can support engineer productivity.”
Instead of measuring the total cost of ownership, which is a common way to weigh cost and benefit, Lin focuses on the opportunity costs instead, which measures the time engineers would be spending building a security platform, versus how they could further benefit the business by keeping their work productive and meaningful, building other revenue generating solutions.
Supporting the high traffic without breach
Just two months after yuu launched, Singapore entered the busiest shopping period in the year, as it coincided with the Christmas and upcoming Lunar New Year festivities. “Most of the consumers would be using the app in brick and mortar stores, so we had to keep in mind that they would be holding their groceries on one hand, and trying to sign up, or turn on their app on the other,” explains Lin. “Making the app experience as simple and seamless as possible was important to retain users, at the same time, we couldn’t compromise on security.”
With Okta Identity Cloud multifactor authentication (MFA) that adds a layer of security to verify the end user’s identity when they log in to an application, minden.ai could ensure that user’s data was kept confidential. A passwordless login was also enabled so that users could sign up quickly and begin enjoying the rewards.
A trusted brand for stakeholder confidence
For Lin, a key consideration when making technology decisions comes down to the individual engineers’ productivity. “We have around 40 engineers working on this project, so by making sure that every engineer’s work is meaningful and productive, we will be able to see a big difference in the output. Okta’s documentation is also very well developed so it can be easily understood by the average engineer for quick onboarding.”
Responsible for the end-to-end development of the yuu app, Lin needs to look beyond the technicalities of app development and manage stakeholders across the board. “Okta is well-trusted in the industry and has a strong reputation in identity security. This made communication with the upper management straightforward and seamless, so we could quickly move along with implementation.”
Working with external stakeholders is just as important, and Lin needed to gain their confidence and buy-in. “Before launch, we were unknown and nobody knew about us, right? In a way, we didn’t have the credibility yet. So using a respected and trusted product like Okta helped a lot, particularly when going through security audits and vetting.” Since every organization runs on their own systems with varying setup, yuu needed to be flexible enough to integrate with the partners, including telcos and banks, which have very strict security requirements. Using machine-to-machine (M2M), yuu could securely connect with any partner, and easily integrate them into their existing stack.
Having a trusted partner to journey with
Beyond the promises that Okta provides, Lin says he values the expertise, sincerity and honesty of the Okta team, as their recommendations were always in yuu’s best interest from the get go.
“There was one point where we had to make an architecture decision, and decided to go with a private instance. However, after working with the solutions architect at Okta, they advised us against this decision, even though the private instance would be better for their business top line.” The honest feedback and what Lin calls a “customer obsession” from the Okta team is what keeps the minden.ai team going back. Not only did Okta advise against their decision, they even provided a more suitable and cost-effective solution for minden.ai.
With yuu’s initial success, minden.ai has a long journey ahead. “Right now, regional expansion is top of mind for us, and implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into the app for a more seamless user experience. Knowing that we can trust Okta to take care of our security policies lets us focus on the AI part of the business and continue to build better solutions for our customers.”
minden.ai is a technology venture that’s redefining the way brands and consumers engage with each other. Its mission is to build a “next-generation consumer engagement platform,” serving millions of customers and merchants across Southeast Asia. The company launched yuu Rewards Club, an app that rewards users with points for cash back every time they shop with participating brands.