financial services

Allied Irish Bank: Building Digital Foundations with APIs

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) is a leader among European banks in meeting requirements of the new EU open banking regulations, thanks in large part to its visionary API team. We spoke with AIB’s Niall Buckley, Head of Digital Ecosystems, Ivan Jennings, Program Delivery Manager, and John Daly, Digital Development Manager, about how they’re using APIs to lay the digital foundation for current and future bank products and services.

How do your roles at AIB relate to APIs and the Apigee platform?

Niall: As Head of Digital Ecosystems for AIB I have business ownership for our new API channel, and within that everything that’s going on in the regulatory space in terms of open banking. So, I'm responsible for keeping us compliant from a regulatory perspective, and the strategic direction in establishing an ecosystem with digital partners and using our API channel as the tool to do that.

John: As the Digital Development Manager for AIB, I look after the Apigee API management platform and am also responsible for the development of microservices and digital strategy. I’m very much involved in the technical design and development of the APIs and the microservices behind them.

Ivan: As the API Delivery Manager I oversee the delivery of programs leveraging digital technologies like APIs and microservices. I work very closely with John's engineering team to build out those programs.

How does AIB use Apigee?

John: The EU’s open banking regulatory deadline required us to expose APIs by January 2017, so that really drove our initial adoption of Apigee. Now we’re using it for developer app onboarding so that third parties who are regulated entities can register themselves and their apps. We also use Apigee to do authentication and authorization of those apps. The third parties use the developer portal to view our API documentation and to self-register and then they communicate to AIB through Apigee. We're using Apigee in the cloud, but all the service calls get routed into on-premises software where we host the microservices that effectively service the APIs.

What kinds of microservices are we talking about?

John: The initial batch is around account information services, like showing balances, viewing transactions, viewing standing orders, viewing direct debits of particular accounts that you may have as a customer with the bank. You can also grant access to third-party applications to view these. We also offer the opportunity to initiate payments from your accounts. Both of these arose from European-wide regulation that banks had to expose candid information and payments services to third parties. So that's what we started with, and that's what we have live at the moment.

How do the EU open banking regulatory requirements figure into your API strategy?

John: Before we had to consider the deadline for meeting the open banking requirements, we had a digital strategy in place that was API-led and embraced a sort of outside-in thinking. Our goal was to make it simpler and easier to consume our own services in-house. Of course, our initial strategy had one eye on the regulation, but we always viewed it as a strategic opportunity to move into the API world rather than a burden. So, we've focused on the regulation because that's the program that has the resources, but there's a lot we already wanted to do in the API space. Our current focus is on changing our own channels so that we can consume APIs via Apigee—using our own APIs as customers as well as providing them to third parties.

Niall: AIB Group has four different brands; AIB bank and the Educational Building Society in Ireland, First Trust Bank in Northern Ireland, and AIB GB which is a boutique business bank in Great Britain. We've only opened the API channel in the UK since the open banking legislation regulation effectively became active there in January. We have 15 third parties that have all connected to our API channel in the UK and we're very shortly going to open our API channel in Ireland as well.

What’s been the reaction from the AIB ecosystem to interacting with AIB’s Apigee platform?

Ivan: The reaction internally to the platform has been really positive because it’s quite easy to use. We made an effort with the user interface and tried to ensure that the content is relevant, so it was nice to get some positive feedback. The primary use cases up until now have been regulatory, but we are starting to see more and more use cases coming from across the bank for commercial propositions seeking to leverage the platform.

What lies ahead for your API program?

John: We’re looking at some other types of information that we may be able to productize. For example, we may be able to have an identity-as-a-service type functionality where we offer customers a login with an ID for third-party financial services. There are several things that banks can't offer customers that may be useful to certain third parties. It’s also important to note that the open banking rules don’t allow charging the third parties or the customer for using the APIs.

We're looking at whether we have information that customers would benefit from being allowed to easily share with a third party, but also the third party would benefit from not having to do themselves. For example, compliance with the Criminal Justice Act and those sorts of things that can be a pinch point for customers, but once it's done perhaps, we could attest to that sort of thing. We are looking at other ways that we could potentially provide a service that a third party would be willing to pay for.

I guess that the nice thing about what we've done so far is that we have the API rails now that we have Apigee in place. We have the patterns defined and we have the means to get APIs delivered quickly, which we didn't have this time last year.

Does Apigee’s monetization feature figure in AIB’s strategy?

Niall: Yes and no. I suppose the reality right now is that this is early days for banking across Europe in terms of how banks go about monetizing API capabilities. There are a lot of options as to how we could approach things. We’re taking the view that we want to focus on productization rather than monetization to promote usage. Maybe we offer APIs for free, but we can work with potential partners on what I call future credit opportunities. As a bank we rely heavily on interest income and we do want to expand and diversify our income beyond that. We’re looking at propositions where we could provide API capabilities that allow us to extend our credit product placement into other marketplaces where we might not be present at the moment. That actually could be the commercial angle on it.

In terms of the monetization capabilities with Apigee, the benefit to us is the fact that it has this flexibility that helps ensure whatever business model we come up with - making API products, turning them into packages, having rate plans against them – we can feel confident, especially given all the flexibility and variability that we can then implement and configure services. As we make our journey and try new things, I know that we have the base capability and the products to allow us to do what we want.

AIB is a financial services group operating predominantly in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, providing a comprehensive range of services to personal, business, and corporate customers.

 

Afinis: Advancing Financial Services Through API Standardization

Editor’s note: Today we hear from George Throckmorton, managing director, Advanced Payment Solutions at NACHA, who's responsible for leading Afinis Interoperable Standards. Under the NACHA umbrella, Afinis is a membership-based standards organization that brings together diverse collaborators to develop implementable, interoperable, and portable standards across operating environments and platforms. Learn how Afinis uses Apigee to help it produce standardized APIs for the financial services industry.

In the spring of 2017, NACHA (formerly the National Automated Clearing House Association) launched the Payments Innovation Alliance API Standardization Industry Group, which sought to create APIs and educate the financial services industry on the importance of API standardization. What we quickly realized was that in order to be effective and move the needle on standardization, we needed a more formal structure that would enable consensus-led governance, intelligent innovation, and international collaboration. Hence, Afinis was born and launched in September 2018.  

Although we were aware of other efforts to do something similar, typically they're driven by a single party with the viewpoint of, “Well, we've created the standard. Now everybody come and use our standard.” That’s completely opposite to what we know works. For the industry to embrace and to adopt standards, they have to feel like they have a voice. And so Afinis is very much an organization where all our members have a say about which APIs will be created, what the governance and lifecycle of the APIs will be, and what the other specifications should look like.

Supporting collaboration

To help ensure members are heard and to support collaboration, the group recognized the need for a platform to facilitate this and support hosting and promotion of the APIs. The Apigee platform was an ideal fit. Its connection with Google provided credibility, value, and consistency, as many API efforts leverage the Apigee software providing a consistent experience for our members who may leverage other similar platforms. And with the platform, we had the capability of hosting and testing the APIs to support the ultimate goal of standardization.  

Setting industry standards

At the heart of the Afinis story is the standardization of APIs. Most companies today can develop and use APIs., but when it came to the standardization effort, there was no true leader in this space. We decided to take on the challenge and focus on efficiency, safety, and security for users of APIs–from developers down to end user clients who might not even be aware that they're on the other end of an API call. By focusing on efficiency, safety, and security, we can pave the way for industry costs savings, new innovations, and scalability.

Take, for instance, the benefit of scalability. Think about a business-to-consumer company that has written an API specification and is doing something great with that API. To implement that with many different partner companies, each with different processes and programs, is overwhelming. It’s essentially a new and unique implementation with each partner company. That’s not efficient. And this is where standardization really comes in to play, and that's what we're trying to tackle.

Democratizing innovation

When we create an API product like the Afinis Account Validation API, it’s not only available to our membership, it's available to the world. Our APIs are free to use, with the idea being that in creating the standard we offer something that developers have enough confidence in that they will want to build with it. We offer documentation and testing capabilities through the Apigee platform, and this is where we want our developer community to come and discover these APIs.

We have a prioritization process at Afinis that enables us to gain a clear understanding of what the demand is among our members and the industry at large. If there's not a high level of demand and commitment from the industry to test or implement APIs, they won’t be adopted. What we look for are organizations that say, "If you create a standard that solves this particular issue, then we are willing to adopt it, or at least test it."

The API focus

Our prioritization process leverages the agile development method, and program increment (PI) planning sessions are used to determine API priorities. We share these with the entire Afinis membership to ensure a level of consensus and viability of adoption. Detailed feedback and input from members and the industry at large showed us that we should be focusing on corporate APIs.

We started looking at how corporations interface with their banks and what types of APIs can facilitate that. From this, we developed an API standard for account validation, one of the API products currently available for public testing. This API is valuable to all kinds of entities that need to validate accounts quickly for payments.

Another API we're working on is payment origination. Typically, when companies initiate a payment with their bank it goes into a batch process. In this model, a company will accrue payments during business hours and then send them all together to the bank at the end of the day. At that point the bank will confirm receipt and process the payments.

But what we’ve found is that as the industry is modernizing, and payments are getting faster, an API can provide this same functionality in real time. In the API model, the bank is always listening, and taking payment instructions as they come in during the day. This is a win-win, as there are no new processes to implement for companies, but their customers are gaining the benefit real-time payments. And since the API will be a standard, it doesn’t matter if a company banks with one institution or five–the APIs work with all of them.

Keeping up momentum

In Q4 2018, we will be working to launch the payment origination API, as well as two other business-to-business-focused APIs. We expect to keep creating and releasing new APIs to serve the needs of our members and the payments industry at large—and being able to do so through the Apigee platform. We’re pleased with the relationship we’ve built with Apigee—not just as a vendor but as a partner. With the continued support we get from Apigee and Google, we expect to continue to support the industry with standardized APIs, which ultimately will result in better experiences for everyone.

TradeIt: API-First Online Trading with Apigee

Editor's note: Today we hear from Joel Hancock, head of product at TradeIt. TradeIt is dedicated to helping people stay in control and connected to their investments by building the underlying API infrastructure to link app developers with financial institutions. 

TradeIt is the leading API for online investing. We connect retail brokers to the TradeIt ecosystem and distribute our API to app developers who use it to enable their users to view portfolios and trade directly from brokerage accounts.

Most of the large retail brokers are integrated into our ecosystem. We've also just distributed our API into one of the largest financial media applications and we’re working closely with several others. We’re excited to be collaborating as well with Google for future integration with Google Assistant.

When we were getting ready to start building an API ecosystem for investing, we had to start thinking early about our API gateway, session management, our API interface, and the developer portal. Initially we started building every one of those on our own, which was a huge undertaking.

As we faced the challenges of scaling and growth, we realized that we should look at what was available on the market–that the smart move would be to leverage a best-in-class API solution instead of building everything in-house. We looked at a few solutions and found Apigee the best for several reasons. We especially appreciated Apigee technology partnerships and the overall functionality of the API developer portal.

At this point, we use Apigee internally in a proof of concept. We plan to go live in Q4 of this year. For us, as an API-first company, Apigee is more of an infrastructure adjustment than a real change in how we do business. We expect the changeover to be transparent to our users. Rather than relying on the switch to Apigee to focus on pushing more product-based features, we see the value because it's just more sustainable in the long term. We couldn’t possibly build, manage, and maintain the kind of feature set, security, stability, scalability, or innovations that the Apigee API management platform gives us.

We built the platform before implementing Apigee. I believe that if we had known that Apigee was out there, we would have started with it from the beginning, saving a lot of time and development costs in the process. Right now, we’re at the point in our migration where we’re seeing that Apigee does a great job at providing us analytics on our API usage, and we can already leverage the developer portal.

I think the main challenge for our team of 10 developers was figuring out how to integrate Apigee to match our business project. The Apigee platform was very helpful when it came to building our own API interface and what we expose to our developers.

We still have a lot of business logic that's very specific to the brokerage field that has to be integrated in the best possible way with Apigee, but we’ve been encouraged so far. Our model is a single API made from aggregating many different trading APIs, and people use us to streamline connecting with popular retail brokers. We’re working on building the logic to map between our APIs and the brokers’ APIs so that we can complete our migration to Apigee.

We’re excited about seeing significant ROI from Apigee soon!

 

Do You Really Want to Be the Next Big Banking Platform?

Banking

 

As is the case at many large organizations, when leaders at banks form a digital vision, it’s often to become the next big banking platform — i.e., the gravitational center of an ecosystem, the Netflix, Uber, Google or Amazon of its industry.

These sorts of visions can be enticing. But they’re remarkably difficult to execute. Organizations need to consider whether they have the resources, personnel, and will to pursue such a course — and even if they do, they may also need a bit of luck on their side.

To be sure, by virtue of changing regulations and customer behavior, most banks’ futures will probably involve ecosystems. But for many, the most lucrative path may not be aspiring to be the platform at the center so much as leveraging other ecosystem participants to offer better services and reach new customers and markets.

The rise of banking platforms

Historically, banks provided financial services to people and businesses in local towns. Because these regional ecosystems were tailored to the contexts and needs of those nearby, local branches have served their communities well for generations and grown accustomed to owning many aspects of the customer experience.

In today’s digital era, however, customers are no longer limited to offerings in the local ecosystem. Customers who bank with traditional institutions increasingly manage their finances via apps rather than brick-and-mortar branches, and new, digitally-native fintech companies are increasingly usurping functions that used to belong to legacy banks. For customers, the expanded catalogue of offerings is a clear benefit — but as activity has become fragmented across more services and less beholden to geography, banks have sometimes found themselves at a disadvantage.

Many banks face an incomplete view of a customers’ holistic financial status, for example, and thus possess incomplete data for launching new functionality, such as a service that provides personalized advice for managing money. A bank may know that a customer transferred funds to some third-party digital wallet or payments platform, for example, but visibility beyond that may be nil.

It’s no surprise, then, that some banks have attempted to unify customers’ various banking activities into a single view or to otherwise leverage disparate data sources for new services — but in doing so, are they more likely to achieve success by focusing on becoming the core platform at the center of customer experiences (i.e., the banking equivalent of Google Maps or Facebook) or one of the participants leveraging other platforms within an ecosystem?

What does it take to become a major banking platform?

To create a digital platform that generates an ecosystem around it, several key foundational conditions generally need to be in place:

  • The bank has excellent API products: To be at the core of an ecosystem, a bank’s platform needs to provide capabilities that other financial platforms want to take advantage of, which means the bank needs application programming interfaces, or APIs, to makes those capabilities easy for third parties to consume. These APIs should be designed and managed not merely to expose systems but as products that empower developers and partners. Building a strong, well-managed API platform is one of the foundations to attracting an ecosystem around a company’s services.
  • The bank possesses uniquely valuable assets and/or a robust R&D budget: A huge ecosystem probably won’t form around APIs that offer access to run-of-the-mill information, like bank branch location data, or that merely provide minimal compliance with regulations, such as open banking mandates that financial institutions provide third parties access to account information and payment initiation. To attract an ecosystem, most banks will need differentiated, compelling offerings — and the budget and talent to keep them on the cutting edge.
  • The bank derives strategies from a data-driven, outside-in perspective: When banks had a monopoly on services and data, they could roll out ideas slowly and deliberately, and they could afford to rely on internal intuition about what customers might want. Because today’s customers have so many options, banks should become laser-focused on what those customers need. Banks should collect data about how customers interact with their products, and they should use this information to form strategies and improve services. They must also expand the definition of “customer” — it’s not just end users but also the developers and partners leveraging APIs.
  • The bank cultivates strong relationships with developers. Outstanding services and API products don’t sell themselves. From investing in real-time monitoring that provides insight into developers’ use of APIs to establishing a presence at important developer conferences to assigning full-time developer evangelists to build relationships, successful platform companies are typically among those with the strongest ties to developer communities.
  • The bank is first to its market. Once a developer community and a base of end users have adopted a given platform, it becomes that much harderfor competing platforms to make strides. Being later to market doesn’t preclude a bank from success — but it increases the burden on all the other conditions for platform growth.

If the above sounds like a tall mountain to climb, you’re right—and it may be even taller than it seems once you consider all the ripple effects these conditions impose.

A bank generally can’t just decide one day to start making API products that will appeal to developers—it will also likely need to adjust funding mechanisms to allow for continuous iteration of APIs, implement new governance models that allow developers to make the most of APIs, adopt new metrics centered around API consumption and ecosystem growth, invest in hiring developers, align IT and business units on the value of the new vision, and so on. While no mountain is too high, not all businesses are currently equipped for the climb.

There is another way

When a bank tries to be the platform driving an ecosystem, its technology typically has to support the coordination of suppliers and consumers throughout the bulk of the entire ecosystem. But when a bank is one of the participants in an ecosystem that is anchored by some other company’s platform, its responsibilities may be significantly more modest and its opportunities for success may be significantly more diverse.

For example, suppose a bank has historically specialized in student loans but possesses no real expertise or experience in other areas, such as mortgage services. This bank could try to fill in these holes in its portfolio in an attempt to become a more all-encompassing platform — or it could focus on services in its area of expertise, piggybacking off an existing platform to promote scale and adaption.

The bank might partner via APIs with another platform to offer additional services, for example, allowing it to provide better experiences for its customers without building expensive new resources from scratch. Or the bank might use its APIs to allow others to layer their own technology atop the bank’s student loans data and functionality, increasing the variety of end users reliant on the bank’s services even if those services aren’t always front and center in the app experience.

This last example can be particularly interesting and challenging for bank leaders. Many banks are attracted to ecosystem-spawning platform capabilities because the banks’ leaders are accustomed to seeing themselves at the forefront of the end user experience. If you’re the big platform through which everyone else exchanges value, your logo is always there, reinforcing the brand. It can be difficult to embrace strategies in which someone else’s logo is in the spotlight.

But being the visible focus of end user interactions won’t be achievable for all organizations, especially because it increases a bank’s responsibilities toward both end users and all the other companies participating in the ecosystem. When a company is attempting to leverage an existing ecosystem for scale or to fill go-to-market gaps, it doesn’t need to have the internal capabilities or R&D budgets of a gravitational platform.

Entering a saturated market will always be hard, but banks that attempt to participate in ecosystems, rather than form them, may find there is less pressure to be the first to bring a new capability to market. They’ll likely still need to invest in developer talent but they may find that their ramp-up curve isn’t as steep. They’ll still need excellent API products but may find they can develop and improve them more organically and iteratively, rather than facing the pressure to satisfy a huge developer community with the first release.

In short, it’s easy to see why banks, and large enterprises in general, are tempted to envision themselves as big platforms — but for many of them, it may not be the best way forward. Becoming the platform at the center of an ecosystem is incredibly difficult and can be prohibitively expensive, but leveraging an existing ecosystem for scale and new capabilities — even if it sometimes means moving a bank’s brand to the background — can lead to results fast.

This post originally appeared on Medium

Bank BRI: Accelerating Financial Inclusion with Apigee

Editor's note: Today we hear from Kaspar Situmorang, head of digital at Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI). Bank BRI was founded in 1895 and is one of the largest banks in Indonesia. Learn how Bank BRI is undergoing an organization-wide transformation to digitize its core functions, build a digital ecosystem, and improve access to banking services across Indonesia. 

Bank Bri Logo

Bank BRI is the biggest bank in Indonesia by assets, and last year we were also the most profitable. We’re the only Indonesian bank with satellites all over the globe. As a government-owned enterprise, we have more than profitability as our mission, though—we’re tasked with aggressively increasing financial inclusion among our user base.

To accomplish this, we’ve been undergoing a complete digital transformation to reach as many previously unbanked and underbanked people as possible. We’re charged with bringing financial inclusion up to 60-70% by 2019 from the current levels of around 40%, so it’s a real challenge and we need to use all the tools at our disposal.

When I was recruited to Bank BRI, I was working in Silicon Valley (not too far from Google headquarters). I had learned a tremendous amount about technology and business and the value of collaboration while living in California. I had already come to appreciate the power of APIs and the value of Apigee, and I was ready to bring back my expertise to Indonesia.

Three pillars of digital transformation

When I joined the bank about a year ago, we came up with a framework for digital transformation in three phases. We would digitize our core first, then our digital ecosystem, and finally, build new, pure digital banking apps that revolve around the needs of our customers.

In terms new applications, we’re having a lot of success with our Apigee platform in terms of building and managing new API-based apps. Our developers love it for the ease of use, and as a manager I can feel confident in the high level of reliability and security and real-time visibility that Apigee gives us.

Our network of over 320,000 “branchless agents” around Indonesia—particularly in the more rural eastern part of the country—is now enabled through our API-based apps to do cash-in and cash-out transactions. They can pay billers as well as offer a variety of services specific to different regions of Indonesia. This greatly helps to accelerate the number people who go from not having banking services to using a bank.

We’re seeing a lot of startups beginning to work with expanding financial inclusion in rural regions. However, they don’t have the licenses to do payment engines, and we’re able to help them by extending our API payment engine to these services.

We’ve also managed to completely digitize our extensive microlending business. Where previously our account officers used pen and paper, now they use an app on their smartphones, with all the necessary integrations using APIs on our backend. For example, credit scoring, fraud detection, early warning, and loan origination all call through the Apigee gateway, seamlessly between the back-end and front ends. This might seem basic, but for Indonesia it’s been a huge transformation.

We’re working to an incredibly aggressive timeline, but we plan to have all of these integrations complete, including payments, with all of our pre-Apigee APIs ported over to the platform, by 2019! By that time, we will have 120 APIs exposed. We’re doing it with our team of 120, with 80 developers, working more efficiently, thanks to the elimination of manual integrations.

Expanding financial inclusion

The main areas the bank is targeting for expanding financial inclusion align perfectly with those areas of banking that best lend themselves to API integrations. We’re initially concentrating on payments, loans, and billers, in collaboration with our partners, to achieve the goals set for us by Bank BRI’s largest shareholder, the Indonesian government. We’ve also been adding satellite offices in underserved areas around Indonesia. So, from an infrastructure standpoint, we’re in good shape.

Part of my role in leading digital transformation is also to push forward a cultural transformation, to bring the lessons I learned in Silicon Valley about the value of collaboration with external partners—partners and competitors alike—to Indonesia, which has room to grow in this area. APIs are the perfect vehicle for showcasing the value of external partnerships.

Again, as a government-owned enterprise with a social mission as well as an economic one, we want to lead the whole nation in digital transformation. By working with our outside partners on API integrations, we have the opportunity to accelerate financial inclusion across the board, not just through Bank BRI. We want to digitally enable the whole nation by sharing our APIs for payments, virtual accounts, ATM locator, and so forth so that everyone can use them. As an example, we’re the only company in Indonesia using WhatsApp for enterprise with our digital assistant, Sabrina, which already has a lot of API integrations.

Fully compliant on-premises solution

When I was searching for the best API solution for Bank BRI, a couple of factors were important. First, any platform that we considered had to be available as an on-premises solution as the Indonesian government mandates that banks not store data in the cloud. Secondly, the top position of Apigee as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant in Full Lifecycle API Management reinforced my assessment that Apigee was the right platform for us. Fast forward to today where we’ve recently finished installing 15 Apigee nodes to handle around 100,000 transactions per minute on our network.

Measuring financial inclusion success

With such aggressive goals for increasing financial inclusions, we have to be precise about how we measure success. We look at three areas: the number of new customers that we’re able to bring to the Bank BRI platform; the percentage of overall financial inclusion rates as it relates to our goal of 60-70%; and, finally, “fee-based income,” which, in banking parlance, means that we measure the success of APIs in terms of payments and loans transactions enabled by our APIs.

We also have an informal measure of success based on service level agreements (SLAs) for integrations. Previously at the bank this was a manual process. Every time a third party wanted to connect with the bank they had to go through IT, and it could take up to four months to complete an integration. Now, with Apigee, we’re talking about completed integrations in a matter of days. Partners go from testing to production to contracts to live in only two days now, which is a huge success for our digital transformation effort.

Keep checking in with Bank BRI—we have a lot of surprises in store!

Will Branches Survive the Shift to Digital?

The torrid pace of bank branch closures continued unabated last year. In the U.S. alone, over 1,700 branches closed—a record. This follows several years of rapid reduction in the number of branches. Between 2012 and 2016, for example, Chase, Bank of America, and Citi shrank their branch footprints by 2.4%, 16%, and 28.5%, respectively.

Banking providers have maintained multiple locations for centuries, but the modern retail strategy emerged in the early 1900s as a way to enter new markets, broaden the deposit base, and reach consumers where they lived. Retail financial institutions could offer convenience to people where they were and better serve them, growing a customer base centered around the branch.

Banks and credit unions subsequently doubled down on this strategy. Recognizing that people were busy and couldn’t always make it to their branch, banks opened locations inside of grocery stores so customers could bank while they shopped. This strategy arguably culminated with ATMs, which could be put almost anywhere, reaching customers wherever and whenever they needed the most basic banking services.

But with the ubiquity of mobile apps, many people’s banking habits now rely less and less on ATMs and other forms of physical infrastructure. What then, is the right branch strategy for the digital era? Is the very concept of branches now dead?

Continue reading this article at The Financial Brand

Yorkshire Building Society Group: Embracing Open Banking with Apigee

Editor’s note: Today we hear from Jonathan Abbott, program manager, PSD2, at YBS Group, the third-largest mutual building society in the UK. Learn how this forward-thinking financial services organization is using Apigee to comply with PSD2 regulations in the UK and help support a digital transformation.

In the UK, the Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) is creating quite a stir, particularly among the largest banks that will now be required to release their data in a secure, standardized way. The idea behind the new open banking requirements, set out in the revised Payment Services Directive, is to facilitate secure data sharing to enable next-generation products and services. At YBS, we believe in the possibilities of PSD2 as we move into a more digital world, and are therefore moving as quickly as possible toward PSD2 compliance.

In complying with PSD2, we saw an opportunity not only to tick a regulatory box, but to build future strategy by using open APIs to enable a rich ecosystem of connected services for our customers.

At this point, full PSD2 compliance requirements are being finalised. As it stands right now, banks need to move to an API model by September 2019 to meet the regulations. After that, screen scraping of customer data can no longer take place. To meet this timeline, we needed an API management platform and expertise to help accelerate our efforts and reduce risk. 

 

 

After comparing several solutions in a formal RFP process, we decided to use the Apigee Edge API platform and work with our trusted consulting partner Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). As a financial services organization, enterprise-grade security was one of the most important considerations for us.

Apigee offers the application access controls and adaptive threat protection we need to use open APIs in a banking environment. We also found the people we worked with at Apigee to be very transparent and accommodating, and they worked collaboratively with TCS and our internal teams to understand our needs in this very new world.

To remain nimble, we took a phased approach, concentrating initially on business process transformation and system changes. In phase two, Apigee became crucial as we put our API gateway in place and began incrementally building our capabilities. We launched our Developer Services portal, Developers.ybs.co.uk, very quickly and began by making available a number of sandbox APIs, with plans to build on this over the next 12 months by offering production APIs in time for the regulatory deadline.

One year ago, YBS didn’t have any API gateway capabilities. Thanks to Apigee and TCS, by next summer, we’ll have everything we need in place for phase three, in which regulators will come in to verify that we’re in compliance with PSD2. Without Apigee, we would have faced a far harder task advancing our digital strategy and complying with Open Banking regulations in such a compressed time frame.

With all the challenger banks, fintech companies, and new potential partnerships emerging as a result of Open Banking, it’s more important than ever for YBS to offer innovative and engaging digital services. By using Apigee to get a head start on API-based banking services, we can be more competitive in the coming years, which will no doubt be a crucial period of disruption, change, and opportunity for UK banks.

Banking 2.0: Navigating the Chaos

Until recently, retail banking has been a comparatively stable, if complex, business. One might say it was a period of evolutionary rather than revolutionary change, with a relatively small number of incumbents dominating markets in which regulations and economic factors produced relatively few truly radical new initiatives. Change could be slow, innovations far apart.

As new digital technologies have gained mass adoption, the landscape has changed. Mobile apps, cashless systems, and many other advances have changed the stakes, relatively quickly — just look at the number of branches closing as more customers do their banking on-the-go in purely digital environments.

On the 13th January, the new Open Banking (OB) regulation in the United Kingdom came into force, mandating compliance with the second Payments Service Directive (PSD2). This is a significant development in the new period of rapid evolution in banking. As regulatory changes unroll alongside rapidly evolving technologies, the range of participants shaping financial services is likely to expand and the pace of disruption is likely to accelerate.

Specifically, the new OB/PSD2 regulations are encouraging new companies to enter the market by mandating that previously-closed banks provide system-to system-interfaces, i.e., application programming interfaces (APIs). These APIs enable companies vetted and approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and permissioned by account holders to access transaction data and request or initiate payments.

Put another way, in the past, customers of a bank could only expect the bank and its immediate partners to offer useful financial services using a customer’s personal information. Now, those apps can come from a much wider range of developers, increasing the likelihood of new innovations to help people manage their finances.

Continue reading this article on Medium.com to learn about the challenges banks face and some steps they can take to move toward operating at Internet speed and competing with startups. 

Pakistan’s JS Bank Chooses Apigee for Digital Banking

An important part of our mission at JS Bank is to provide a wide range of innovative and high-quality banking products and services to our customers. We aim to deliver these products and services through a variety of channels, and, to do so, we believe that JS Bank must engage with the financial services developer community and become a digital bank.

That’s why we’re pleased to announce that Apigee will provide the API management platform to enable this transformation.

Apigee is a proven cutting-edge platform, which will enable us to offer banking APIs in a very agile environment to keep up with the pace of fintech development globally, and especially in Pakistan. This initiative will certainly accelerate our fintech collaboration strategy and enable us to engage with the developer community for the first time.

We’d also like to thank Abacus Consulting, the Apigee partner that will help implement the solution at JS Bank. Read more about Apigee, JS Bank, and Abacus in this press release

Khurram Shaikh is chief digital officer of JS Bank, which is based in Sindh, Pakistan. JS Bank operates 323 branches in 161 cities, and one international branch.

 

Worldline & Apigee: Partnering for PSD2

With regulators around the globe pushing for more openness and competition via APIs, led by the European Commission’s PSD2, the payments industry is headed toward an API-powered, programmable future.

There’s no turning back. By January 2018, PSD2 will require 5,000 financial institutions across Europe to provide open access to customer, transaction, and payment information via APIs.

As banks ready themselves for this onrushing future, shockwaves of the effort are being felt throughout the financial industry. Banks that must comply with PSD2 and Open Banking regulations are turning to their vendors and ecosystem partners and asking for APIs.

Those companies are looking not only for ways to serve their customers better, but also how to compete in the API economy.  

Worldline has been an aggressive and highly successful competitor and an innovator in payments services across Europe. The company recently announced the Apigee Edge API platform as the cornerstone of its API strategy.  

In the words of Worldline chief technology officer Christophe Duquenne: “We chose Apigee Edge since it enables us and our customers to accomplish our time-to-market objectives and, at the same time, meet important requirements in terms of security and scale.”

We’re very excited to help Worldline chart and execute its API journey as built-out internal and external API ecosystems. We have a shared vision of these ecosystems being built by developers, and the importance of providing first class, self-service developer experiences.

As Worldline handles billions of payment transactions every year, we’re gratified that they trust Apigee to secure their APIs. The future of payments is APIs, and we are excited to be part of Worldline’s journey there.