About the Author: Recognized in 2013 and 2014 by the public as one of Europe’s leading Emerging Technology and Disruption Strategy advisers Matthew Griffin is an international speaker and writer who works with global Accelerators, Analysts, Entrepreneurs, Investors, Governments and multi national organizations to help them see, lead and adapt to new business, cultural and societal trends.
The news that the UK Government is considering introducing legislation that force the Financial Services industry to develop common, publicly available Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) shouldn’t come as a surprise. Initiatives like Level 39, Finance Innovate and Fintech50 have helped position the UK as a Fintech powerhouse and the new UK Government has made it clear that it wants the UK to be at the forefront of Financial Services innovation and enabling more innovation around bank data is one way to ensure that that happens.
Ironically many organisations still see API’s an interesting curiosity but a curiosity nevertheless and the creation and development of APIs are often pushed down to the bottom of the business agenda but in today’s increasingly digital world APIs are the equivalent of our own cardiovascular system – one that breaks down information silos by ensuring that information can be transported to wherever the it’s needed in the most efficient manner possible.
Implemented incorrectly and without the right controls though APIs can also be the equivalent of leaving your front door open – something that’s not been lost on the CIA whose Venture Capital arm In-Q-Tel, seeing the value in ‘joining the dot’s in the Internet of Everything era, in 2013 invested in the popular API firm Apigee.
The debate over whether or not the Government will legislate the Financial Services community to adopt or create open, common APIs can be seen as a double edged sword. On the one hand it will help make Financial Services organisations more open, efficient and innovative and help them create and monetise new Developer ecosystems and broad base iBank App Stores which, bearing in mind that finance is one of the largest industries on the planet means that with the right tailwind an iBank App Store could drive more revenue than Apple make in a year.
On the other hand though as we’ve seen with the Social Media and Technology industries it will also give rise to another bigger wave of agile and hungry Fintech competitors and let them ratchet up their own competitive offerings. This time though they’ll be armed with the capability to create glorious, data laden customer products and services that make their products even more attractive and that in turn will put the banks under even more competitive pressure.
A Government legislated API strategy will be good news for consumers, Fintechs and the Financial Services industry as a whole and. It will stimulate a new innovation arms race and offer organisations the ability to grow outside of their own organisations walls but similarly if organisations don’t invest the time or effort to create robust, valuable customer centric products and strategies then it could cut through their business like a wrecking ball.