What Do You Say to a Bank that Wonders Whether They Need an API?

The Axway Blog Team had a chance to catch up with Simon Redfern, CEO of the agile web/mobile agency TESOBE and founder of The Open Bank Project, and get a preview of his upcoming presentation at Axway’s API management workshop in New York.

The Open Bank Project is an open-sourced API and app score for banks that facilitates access to banking resources, starting with account-transaction data,” said Redfern, “and it has interesting roots. I was thinking about corruption and fraud, and I thought about how bank accounts could be open for everyone to see. Banks would want to have an API to make the best use of the data. Basically the idea is that developers should be able to write apps to talk to banks much like they can write apps to talk to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.”

By giving developers this ability, the bank can leverage third-party innovations, quickly add new platforms and services, pick and choose which apps they like, brand them, make them available in their own app store, and offer more quality choices to their account holders.

“Customers benefit,” said Redfern, “because they get access to a much greater range of niche applications. And the bank benefits because they can now start to monetize their data. They have greater visibility on which data is being used. Our solution, unlike others, actually re-intermediates the bank.”

Other solutions take lots of data away from the bank, explained Redfern. But by putting an API on top of the bank, the bank remains the gatekeeper of authentication, which enhances the account holder’s security. Again, the bank benefits, because the customer is incentivized to log in on a regular basis, thanks to the app.

So what, we asked Redfern, do you say to a bank that wonders whether they need an API?

“Very soon all organizations will realize that they need an API,” said Redfern. “Banks are no different. Some banks do have APIs, but so far they are proprietary and hidden away, and not very open. Most banks really haven’t embraced this kind of open-developer ecosystem.

“But that’s what we’re bringing. We’re bringing a large community of developers who want to innovate in the financial space. Our API brings a pre-made data model that developers can rely on to get data out of any bank without having to rewrite their application every time. Developers can use our sandbox. They can test an app and then plug it into a real data feed. We make the application-development process friction-free.”

And what sort of apps has Redfern been seeing?

“They range from business analytics apps to the first ‘singing bank’ app,” he said. “It turns your bank account into a musical instrument. When money comes in, the app plays a high note, and when money goes out, a low note.”

To learn more about how APIs enable a bank to operate as a platform and the role API management plays in that enablement, sign up for our May 15, 2014 workshop now!