5 Top Banks Open Up Re: API Channels
April 10, 2018| Reading Time: 6 minutes
Earlier this week, we published an article called “What is an API Channel?”. This is a follow-up with a view on the banking industry.
Leading API Channels in Banking
Over the last five years, many of the largest banks in the world have been silently building out API channels. Whether spurred by regulation like the EU’s Open Banking Standard (PSD2), an audit-ready state of operational efficiency, or simply answering to the pressure of competition, the evidence says that the runners are in place and the heat is on.
Today we’ve gathered a few quotes and movements from those key players to zoom in on the banking API channel. With it, these digital leaders are making impressive waves — and likely have many more to come.
$105,486 revenue in millions, 2017 (Fortune.com)
Just launching their API store over the last 6 months, JPMorgan has joined its competitors aboard the open API gateway train. The 2-part store consists of JPMorgan Developer, for the investment arm, and for the retail banking arm, Chase Developer. (Business Insider)
James Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase announced the API store just recently in his annual Letter to Shareholders, but the part that caught our interest is when the letter mentions that each business and merchant has “its own software” and “wants easy, integrated access to products and services” — sounds like APIs, to us.
Our shared technology infrastructure – our networks, data centers, and the public and private cloud – decreases costs, enhances efficiency and makes all our businesses more productive. In addition, this allows us to embrace the fact that every business and merchant has its own software and also wants easy, integrated access to our products and services. We are delivering on that through the creation of a common JPMorgan Chase API (application programming interface) store that allows customers to add simple, secure payments to their software.Jamie Dimon, CEO JPMorgan
APIs give us an opportunity to break down our large programs into reusable components… That also allows us to think differently about how we want to connect with our customers… If you think about J.P. Morgan Markets, that’s a great asset we have. If a company wants to connect with us, it requires technology resources on our side and technology resources on their side to make it work. If they want to get information from us and be able to integrate that into their workflows, it’s difficult. That’s why an API strategy for us is important to simplify the way we interact with our clients.Lori Beer, Chief Information Officer for JPMorgan Chase
Source: Business Insider
$94,176 revenue in millions, 2017 (Fortune.com)
A longtime leader in banking innovation, Wells Fargo is the world’s 2nd largest bank, according to market capital. In 2014 they launched their first FinTech Innovation Lab, and soon after came their customer-centric focused Innovation Group. In 2016 we saw the launch of their open developer gateway, where they currently offer 13 public API Products, 6 for payments and 7 under the data services category.
Last year Wells Fargo announced data-sharing deals with financial aggregator Finicity, accounting software provider Xero, and Intuit. Supporting this set of diverse and varied external digital accomplishments is the API channel.
I am seeing a drive to accommodate traditional banking services in new ways through API channels. One example is our push to card API, which allows a company to send a payment using the debit card rails to their consumer’s account in near real time. For example, an insurance company can pay out a claim directly to their customer’s debit card, which happens very quickly, and in doing so, score high on customer experience.Secil Watson, head of Digital Solutions for Business at Wells Fargo
Source: Wells Fargo
“We view new technology like APIs as the next step in distribution… It’s really about getting financial services products into any digital experience so you no longer have to come to a bank site to leverage a particular functionality or complete a particular transaction.”Imran Haider, the head of Wells Fargo’s API Gateway Channel
Source: “Banking’s Open Future”, PYMNTS.com
From the same interview, another note on channels supported by the API channel: “(Haider) noted that the company is currently offering an API channel built to support many different services offered by Wells Fargo, including retail banking, wholesale businesses, home mortgages and treasury management.” PYMNTS.com
Bank of America
$93,662 revenue in millions, 2017 (Fortune.com)
Bank of America boasts one of the best mobile experiences in retail banking, and their digital strategy is showing huge returns in customer engagement, with 89% growth since 2016. In the short 5-year period when the number of banking deposits made onsite were cut in half, Bank of America’s mobile users went from 6 million to 22 million (Financial Brand), and already they’re up to 23 million this year.
Last year, their innovative strategy included “digitized branches” with contactless ATMs, an enhanced, customizable mobile dashboard, and a partnership with Better Money Habits to offer a Goal-Setting Tool, and early this year they launched their API gateway (American Banker).
But the API channel runs far deeper than the digital achievements we can observe externally. Led by CTO (Now CIO) David Reilly in 2014, Bank of America went all in on the move to the “software-defined infrastructure” they sit on today, where “compute, storage (and eventually network) resources are provisioned via APIs.”
The goal is to one day have a system built entirely on commodity servers that are uber-flexible: They could act as compute servers one day, a network switch another and be part of a pool of storage resources if needed. Containerized, micro services-designed applications automatically provision infrastructure resources they need without requiring any human hands in the process.David Reilly, CIO Bank of America
Source: Network World
“We want to embrace the innovation opportunities presented by APIs and work with industry providers to give our clients an expanded, secure experience that helps them grow and prosper… As the pace of technological change accelerates, expectations accelerate in tandem. Clearing systems, regulatory mandates and banking channels are evolving to support real-time interactions with unbundled banking services. Our clients will expect to integrate these directly into their business processes and applications. The experience will be easy, more secure and seamless to end users.”Faiz Ahmad, head of Global Transaction Services (GTS) at BofA Merrill
Source: Bank of America Newsroom
$82,386 revenue in millions, 2017 (Fortune.com)
Citi, a digitalML customer, opened an API Portal for their developers in 2016, and has already produced some exciting results (see Citi Mobile Challenge). Beyond that, they have an entire branch called Citi Fintech that is using APIs externally and internally. Since Citi FinTech’s launch, their APIs have led to partnerships with 1800Flowers, Best Buy, honestbee, Lazada, Mastercard, Qantas, Virgin Money, Wonder, and more.
A few years ago, under pressure to match the customer-centric offerings of nontraditional banks and FinTech players, Citi began “restructuring its operating model and empowering developer ecosystems to innovate as quickly as a startup, while maintaining its core business.” (Tech Crunch)
Let’s take a look at what Citi has said about how they’re using their API Channel, both internally and externally:
“There’s a lot of pressure from clients on banks to quickly adapt to the demand for improved digital experiences or be at risk of becoming irrelevant. Our CitiConnect API solution provides a strong foundation for our clients looking to embrace e-commerce initiatives… Across every industry, APIs are proving to have significant business impact. At Citi we believe it can help our clients quickly build modern, cross-functional banking applications.”Derek Rego, Global Head of Electronic Banking Channels, Citi TTS Technology
“[The Developer Hub] actually covers 85 percent of the core services a customer performs. We wanted to expose many of our APIs to a much larger community, to be exposed to the services they’re working on and give them the opportunity to come to Citi to uncover and unveil where those hidden gems are, those additional opportunities. Instead of just focusing on ideas that target all things Citi and talking to our customers, we now have a whole new partner base of developers and tech organizations looking to integrate with us and can now use our APIs.”Yolande Piazza, CEO Citi FinTech
“At Citi, we are focused on making banking easier for our customers by leveraging digitization, mobile technology and innovation. Our open architecture approach is supported by the launch of APIs as a key enabler for the rapid and dynamic deployment of services and capabilities that will allow us to be increasingly relevant to our customers and target markets across Asia-Pacific.”Francisco Aristeguieta, CEO of Citi Asia-Pacific
$37,712 revenue in millions, 2017 (Fortune.com)
On the investment banking side, Goldman Sachs seems to place enormous value in their API channel, as they have often mentioned their aim to be the Google of Wall Street. Their digital transformation has been in the works for years, according to an excellent interview with McKinsey detailing Goldman Sachs’ journey to the cloud.
This past year, an MBA class taught at Harvard even used Goldman Sachs as a case study example of the gains and challenges of an incumbent company moving to become a tech platform, citing SIMON, the structured notes platform. Their cloud-based API strategy seems to be paying off well for them.
Their API Channel might be the most mature of them all:
“Historically, the API has been human beings talking to other human beings over the telephone, and all the tools, the content, the analytics is on the internal platform only. We are shifting this radically and shifting this fast, and we’re packaging everything we do… we’re redesigning the whole company, around APIs.”Martin Chavez, Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Source: Business Insider
“We’re now taking that a step forward to think about data: How do we build a very large, scalable way of managing business intelligence? That’s a big initiative for us. Our cloud architecture enables our developers to think about data as an asset to be shared separately from the applications themselves—with appropriate controls, how can the firm’s data be integrated and stored in places where it can be accessed by more people? Being able to bring different types of data sets together, forming new data sets, and being able to learn from that information—that creates business intelligence for us. I don’t think we could’ve delivered or built a large data leg if we did not have the underlying cloud capabilities we have today.”Don Duet, Global Head of the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs
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