API in open banking

Capitalize on advances of API in Open Banking

Introduction:

While big data and its associated algorithms and analytics are a powerful step to gaining insight, a more fundamental building block for the data market is access. Most industries have started leveraging an easier access to data through API. The financial services industry considers it to be a priority too. Some of the global steps that have been taken to adopt data for public sector transparency and integrity include the G20’s Anti-Corruption Working Group and the European Union’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

Data sharing can be seamlessly accomplished through API or more popularly known as application programming interface. According to a Mckinsey report, API is an intelligent conduit that allows for data flow between systems in a controlled yet seamless fashion. APIs are in use in banking systems for years now. However, with the breakthroughs in advanced analytics and the positive market response to numerous non-banking fintech companies, APIs are once again in the limelight. Experts believe it has the potential to enhance the delivery of financial services across sectors, including retail and business.

Open banking with its benefits to consumers, banks and non-banks is expected to usher in a new financial services ecosystem where the roles of banks may undergo a marked shift. It also raises issues around compliance and data privacy. This is the reason why global markets have been leaning more towards increasing governance. There is a global momentum towards open banking models, leading to an overhaul in the blueprint based on which these systems have been previously operational. This requires banks and fintechs to position for success in a new environment while anticipating what its impact on customers could potentially be.

What is open banking?

As per the same McKinsey report, open banking is a collaborative model in which banking data is shared through APIs between two or more unaffiliated parties to deliver enhanced capabilities to the marketplace. API has been popularly adopted for decades, particularly in the US. This helps to foster the growth of personal financial management software, show billing details on bank websites and connect platform developers to payment networks like Visa and Mastercard. However, API was primarily used to share information rather than to facilitate the transfer of monetary balances.

Benefits of open banking:

The benefits of open banking are substantial. They include improved customer experience, new and increased revenue streams and a service model that can cater to traditionally unexplored markets. Examples include Mint, Lending Club in the US to Lenddo in the Philippines.

However, these advances are not as easy as they sound. Research says that with the emergence of integrated digital ecosystems, these ecosystems collide threatening operating models and preventing business innovation. Additionally, most of the breakthroughs have happened outside the realm of financial services. This makes rich data and their associated data flows look more like a threat than an opportunity. The non-banking sector has demonstrated a more serious market traction so far. Hence, open banking is a model still in its nascent stages.

However for the banking sector, there are inherent risks in sharing data flows. This makes data security and matters of compliance and governance of utmost importance.  The real API value proposition lies in streamlining systems integration for data access. The aforementioned issues of privacy and security makes it a monumental infrastructure challenge.

Facilitation of a futuristic collaboration:

Open banking models can facilitate a series of services for all stakeholders in the financial services. For example -Wechat has enabled e-commerce through their platforms. This model can evolve into a one-stop-shop platform integrated with personalized experiences and commerce centered apps. Other services like Trustly provide credit extensions at checkouts, where a purchase decision can be influenced.

Open banking also ensures financial inclusion. This helps banks and financial networks arrive at a more precise risk and credit analysis of members who have been potentially excluded from the financial system. For example – Angaza in Africa. This is a unique way of introducing and including more consumers to the formal financial system.  This has the possibility of expanding market opportunities in a particular geography. Incubators and venture capitalists from around the world have shown particular interest in newbies who are aspiring to incorporate nonfinancial data with transactions based on data insights.

While it is true that open banking will reduce control in traditional banks, the banking ecosystem will however gain from larger profit pools. It can also position itself to play a leading role in combining artificial intelligence and predictive analysis. This in turn will improve integration of banking services for customers and the enhancement of business offerings.

Challenges:

The challenges vary by geography, demographics and the ecosystem development in that particular country. Banks with larger global footprints expect to face challenges in the future regarding regulations and standards. By 2023-24, banks should leverage their incumbent advantages by doing the following:

1. Be a game changer by staying ahead of the curve, exploring data sharing with fintech and non-financial services.

2. Explore the value of APIs and how they can benefit the bank’s service model.

3. Fully understand data privacy mandates and determine if their institution has the appetite for a less conventional approach. Also examine how API could facilitate future customer messaging without incurring any damage.

Final thoughts:

Open banking and API banking are two terms that are becoming universally popular. They have the potential of radically transforming customer experiences and making banking experience a more personalised and less time-consuming process. It is important that banks, fintechs, investment houses and other payment service providers look into its potential and explore opportunities around it.

Change is rarely comfortable, but with the market evolving across countries, it is slowly coming across as inevitable. It will be better if banks start defining the trend rather than waging a futile battle to repel it.

Like other businesses, if you too are looking to develop IT Solutions in Financial Services industry, Mindfire Solutions can be your partner of choice. We have gained significant experience over the years working with Fintech Companies. We have a team of highly skilled and certified software professionals, who have developed many custom solutions for our global clients over the years.

Here are a few interesting projects we have done with API in Fintech industry. Click here to know more:

Case study on Student loan approval system.

Case study on Smart card for pocket money.

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