Financial institutions opening up… the ‘app era’ is here!

Chiel Liezenberg's picture

The last 2 days, I was at EBAday. 600 bankers and exibitors under one roof discussing ‘unlocking the full potential of SEPA’. Lots of panel discussions on innovation, e-invoicing, e-SEPA, etc.

During one of these presentations I realised that I am probably missing out on a major interbank ‘e’ collaboration initiative. As an expert in this domain and generally well informed on such matters, I was instantly worried that we as Innopay had missed a great business opportunity, right in our sweetspot.

Let me explain…

Last year, PayPal made a bold move and opened up their platform to third-party application (app) developers, with their PayPal-X platform and a series of APIs. The reasons behind it are as simply as they are revealing: PayPal now considers itself a big organisation and acknowledges that it is having increasing difficulty to keep up with developments in technology, emerging transaction contexts and sheer number of innovative ideas out there waiting to either challenge or leverage PayPal’s capabilities. So they decided to mobilise the community’s innovation capacity and capabilities instead, in order to let the market guide them and be a part of the solution, rather than the problem. Bravo PayPal!

Surprisingly, this week MasterCard announced a similar initiative and is also opening up their platform towards third-party app developers with a series of APIs, basically quoting the same reasons that drove PayPal to PayPal-X. Who would have believed this 2 weeks ago? I surely did not. I actually had a conversation with a payment professional in the US/Bay area last week about MasterCard or Visa opening up their platforms. We could not imagine it. Now it’s here. Great market antipation, great timing. Well done MasterCard!

So surely, the banks who have been admittedly and openly struggling with their innovation capacity and capabilities in this domain for years now – due to increasing regulatory and political pressures, crisis, non-bank competition, and so forth – must have long since started a development to open up their internet banking platforms. Leveraging this powerful capability, creating more and more compelling functionality, services and stickyness, re-affirming the trust relation with their customers through this strategic service delivery channel. Knowing that doing it on a single-bank basis would make completely no sense, they must have gone for collaboration. They typically do.

It is my guess that we can expect an announcement from the banks real soon. I can’t wait. Still, I want to be a part of it and contribute to this exciting development. We have lots to contribute as we have been working on a vision for leveraging internet banking, effectively creating multi-functional, open interfaces on internet banking to speed up innovation and service go-to market. I’m quite surprised they haven’t called me actually, since we have been preaching this for SIX years among many of them …

Can anyone please point me to this hyper-innovative interbank ‘e’ working group? Call me. It’s time to inform the rest of us. It’s time to open up!


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