FinTech: Open API Standard for Banks

Following on from the recent government consultation into creating an open standard API for UK banks, I’ve asked some of those involved in fintech and digital banking about their views on this development.  

Increased competition and the unbundling of bank services by innovative fintech developers are continuing to provide customers with more services.  By opening up some of the information that banks have so far controlled, making it accessible via an open standard API should strengthen their platform.

Simon Redfern, founder of the Open Bank Project took part in the HM Treasury open standard API consultation. Understanding how customers and developers would benefit I asked Simon if the banks themselves could gain by producing open APIs that developers love to use, hence attracting new customers via useful applications. ” Exactly.  This is the Open Banking / Bank as a Platform vision that the Open Bank Project supports with its open standard, open source technology and community. For instance a developer could build a Spanish App that connects to UK banks as well as say, Mexican banks. It’s about an open standard giving rise to more choice and utility for banking customers because developers find it easy to use internet standards such as REST and OAuth and, if it’s easy to deploy to multiple banks, developers are more likely to develop for specialist markets”

An open API ecosystem will have to function on more layers than a bank to consumer model and function as distributed economy, particularly with mashup applications where data can move in any direction. In this environment open source gives developers the opportunity to build without hindrance and be more able to deliver the value users require.  This sea change of a technically driven financial world has a myriad of implications for developers in open source software and open source data. The fintech sector is already maturing at a fast pace, improving financial services even for those who do not use banks.  Stevie Graham from London, highlights the main issues for developers and bank customers, “the key thing for developers is a single unified banking API. Developers do not want to have to integrate a completely different API in order to support all of their users. That’s one reason why I am building Teller ( Developers integrate one API and get all the banks. The benefits to customers are innumerable”

Open bank data will give us the freedom to access all banks in real time and from a single view, automatically calculating the best deals in complete transparency which will be a significant step forward for social good, giving people more control over their finances. Meanwhile fintech incubators, accelerators and start ups are developing a more experienced talent pool of developers ready to act upon these newly available assets.

According to Stephane Dubois, CEO of Xignite “The role of technology in advancing the financial service industry is more critical than ever before. The use of APIs by todays banks is becoming increasingly common, as they help to drive speed and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional legacy systems. There is considerable value in providing financial institutions with the tools and resources needed for adapting to technological changes, making the role of emerging API developers critical for the long-term success of today’s financial institutions.”

Through a self perpetuating ecosystem of developers the banks will continue to gather an increasing amount of high value data from customers through third party integration. Christian Rhodes from London and owner of Trendensity has a pragmatic view of in terms of independent developers entering the banking sector, ” products are making it to market much quicker than banks can match. Now, instead of trying to build and push proprietary solutions, organisations are adapting to where the clients are or might be and taking the appropriate steps into an open environment”

3 thoughts on “FinTech: Open API Standard for Banks

      1. In fact, a kind of standard is used in the USA, it is called OFX:

        I see the Open Bank Proyect a reinvent of the wheel, but maybe I’m wrong.

        Anyway, all banks have to agree to adopt a standard. This have a cost, so this can only happen with a law that forces banks.
        Meanwhile, solutions that “standarize” data banks are needed…


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