‘API used to be just a technology, now it is a state of mind’


‘Open API is more than a technology or a new way to meet compliance obligations; it represents a new way of doing business that must be embraced with open arms and put to work.’ The conclusion is clear in this recent article on GT News about API’s and the attitude of banks towards this technology. It stated that we’re still at the early stages of a new era in API-driven payments revolution. ‘Banks, fintech companies and merchants will have much to learn, so organizations must get their hands dirty with open API techniques as quickly as possible.’

The fundamental change in this new reality is that companies in the payments sector are not just delivering services to clients or consumers anymore, they are opening up for developers and unlocking their valuable data to work together and develop new services together. The keyword is co-creation: by providing APIs to developers, this creates new opportunities and services for consumers based on existing data. This is also known as Open API, the combination of API technology and open collaboration. It is about working together with other stakeholders to create new services based on existing services, such as data.

Open API must be viewed through a wider lens

This is what the GT News article explains as: ‘Open in the context of open APImeans more than just the provision of access to data or systems. Moreover, openness is not necessarily a commitment to use a specific industry ‘open’ technical standard either. The enabling mechanisms of open API can be framed as message formats and defined data fields, but open API must be viewed through a wider lens of partnership and collaboration.’ As the author put it: ‘API used to be just a technology, now it is a state of mind – an approach to business development that supports new dialogue between customers, suppliers and partners in emerging business ecosystems.’

Now banks and bank service providers such as equensWorldline are also leveraging the advantages of APIs. In this respect, equensWorldline recently started to expose selected functions in a safe and controlled way to developers of its current banking clients via the API Developer Portal. This portal allows these selected banks to develop new applications on the equensWorldline assets and infrastructure. By making APIs available, equensWorldline facilitates clients to push innovations, as they can build applications on top of the API that suits their specific business needs. This is far more efficient and effective for them than building applications from scratch.

A coalition of the willing

Banks, payment service providers and their clients can benefit from the deployment of APIs by developing and offering new and innovative services. Besides that, there is another important driver behind the gaining momentum of the usage of APIs. The European Commission has taken the bold step to force all banks to open their payment accounts to third parties by January 2018 via the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2). equensWorldline recognized the potential (and the risks) of this development very early and has formed a coalition of the willing around this topic with partners from diverse industries. The goal is to make PSD2 work safely, at scale and in practice.

PSD2 is becoming a reality soon, so business in the payments industry must be ready for this legislation. Opening up via APIs is very much recommendable since it will lead the way to explore new business opportunities instead of “just” fulfilling regulatory requirements and Banks or payment service providers should not be afraid of this new way of working.

‘Established banks are perfectly capable of adopting new digital techniques to maintain customer relationships, as well as partnering with/acquiring specialist companies that bring in specific skillsets. Experimentation with open API techniques on both sides of the banking-fintech bridge will make it more likely for collaborations and their customers to prosper in the long-term,’ is the positive conclusion of the article on GT News.

  • Eric van Vuuren
  • 04 April 2017