Why major fintech players are already embracing open API standards (VB Live)

Presented by Envestnet | Yodlee

The financial industry is coming together to develop open API standards in the U.S. to improve transaction transparency and user consent, as well as ensure data security. Join this VB Live event to learn more about the emerging open API economy and how to make the most of it.

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Finance has long been about interchange, shared ledgers, and industry standards. But now APIs are becoming the heart of a consumer-permissioned model that today’s consumers expect, says Dan Martin, senior director of product architecture at Envestnet | Yodlee.

“The financial industry is coming together to develop a consumer-permissioned model that gives consumers control of access to their financial data, as well as access to real-time technologies, like immediate access to their assets, instant funds transfer, and more,” Martin says.

As these consumer-permissioned models become available, innovation among fintechs and financial institutions is flourishing, he says. It gives them tools needed to build business models on top of consumers’ financial data and on top of consumers’ access to funds that just didn’t exist before.

Why open APIs are essential

Open API standards are required for interchange in every industry, Martin says. Time and again, when industry leaders don’t come together, the largest competitor in that space will simply dominate the standard. The other common outcome is that the communities at large will build disruptive technologies, as opposed to relying on that open standard.

“Both of those outcomes are negative for the industry as a whole,” Martin says. “Open standards are the best way to make sure that everybody in the industry is involved in setting the direction of technology in our industry.”

He points to the outsized impact Microsoft has had in setting standards around documents as an example of the dominant player setting the de facto standard, and controlling the space from there on. Another example of the negative impact is the browser wars. For over a decade, the web worked only in one browser.

Unfortunately, most industries are dominated by proprietary APIs, and therefore are missing out on that ability for innovators to build on top of a platform across all players in the industry.

Open banking outside the U.S.

In many countries, government mandates have forced banks and financial service providers to implement open banking technologies to allow customers consumer-permissioned access to their data. Countries across Europe are seeing significant financial services innovation, with enormously successful businesses built on the back of open banking.

Both existing and new companies that have been built on the promise of open APIs are now able to provide consumers with better experiences, better access to their information, better ability to understand their own financial positions and wealth, and the ability to easily transfer funds and assets around.

“London is now considered the Silicon Valley of the finance and technology world, in part because the startups and innovators in that region of the world have direct access to open APIs,” Martin says. “The rest of the world is opening our eyes to the reality that there is a lot of opportunity.”

The state of open APIs in the U.S.

In the U.S., the movement toward open banking standards is not happening as holistically as it happened in Europe. Without a governmental mandate and deadline, adoption is much slower — but progress is being made, says Martin. Still, to be successful, adoption needs to be close to universal. While 90% of accounts are held by a small number of organizations, the last 10% is spread out among many financial institutions, which is always the challenge to getting a full rollout of any kind of industry standard.

However, the smaller players are watching closely — as the successful development of Zelle demonstrates. Zelle is a real-time funds transfer platform that allows consumers to send cash between almost any U.S. bank account typically within minutes. The big players were the first to the table when Zelle was being built, but once it became clear that the project was a success and there was real value there, the longer tail of financial institutions got involved.

“I believe that with Europe as the example, the investors in the U.S. are very excited to replicate some of that here,” Martin says. “I anticipate that as open standards become more common, and in particular more accessible to more developers, they’ll open up that innovation in the U.S. like they have in other countries.”

To learn more about how open API standards are being developed in the U.S., the opportunities coming to light as adoption soars, and more, don’t miss this VB Live event!

Registration is free here.

Attendees will learn:
• What the U.S. can learn from Europe’s open API standards
• The latest on open API standards in the U.S.
• New partnerships and opportunities

Speakers:
• Dan Martin, Senior Director, Product Architecture, Envestnet | Yodlee
• Evan Schuman, Moderator

More speakers to be announced soon!

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