Here at Streamdata.io, we are investing a significant amount of resources into understanding where banks in Europe are on their banking API journey. We have some customers who are using our streaming data services, proxying their existing APIs, but we’ve also had numerous conversations with banks who don’t have even simple JSON web APIs in place, and we want to understand more about why this is. We’ve begun to profile the landscape for banks in Europe, beginning with France, then quickly looking in the UK, as well as in Germany–once we’ve profiled these countries, we will move to other areas.
In our experience, the financial institutions who are able to put our services to work are further along in their journey, and possess a much more mature approach to deploying and managing their APIs than other banks. So we began to develop a way to measure how mature banks are when it comes to APIs, quantifying how far along in their journey they are. We’ve started with just a handful of obvious, but meaningful public signs:
These three signs can be a pretty significant differentiator for understanding how far along a bank is. Ultimately determining how competitive the bank will be in coming years. If a bank doesn’t have a public API program in motion currently, it will have to work extra hard to play catch up in coming years, while other banks will be investing in the growth of their existing efforts.
If a bank does have an API program, we begin to look at a handful of the essential building blocks of operating an API to understand the viability of the APIs they offer. It is common for financial institutions to publish an API, take advantage of the press release opportunity, but when it comes to real world integration, the platform leaves a lot to be desired. The presence, or absence of these common building blocks can help identify how healthy the heartbeat of a banking API actually is:
– Documentation – Is there robust, interactive, up to date, and usable documentation available for the API?
– Authentication – Does a provider go in to detail about how developers will securely authenticate with APIs?
– Self-Service Registration / Login – Can API consumers register and login without speaking with a sales team?
– Communication – Are there any communication channels available, such as a blog, Twitter account, or other approach?
– Support – Does a bank provide the usual support mechanisms for an API, like an email, ticketing, or Github issues?
– SDK / Libraries – Are there SDKs, code libraries or samples available for developers to put to use when integrating?
That represents the essential building blocks that should be present with ALL banking API providers. If they aren’t offering these elements as part of their public API presence, it is likely it isn’t actually supporting any active users, or interested in attracting any new users. Next, we want to understand the legal side of operating an API, and we look for the basic legal building blocks.
– Terms of Service – The legal document guiding how the API can be used, defining the rules of the road for developers.
We have a much larger list of criteria we are evaluating UK, French, and German banking API on, however we are looking to keep our measurement and ranking algorithm pretty simple in the early days. We understand that many banks are just getting going on their API journey, and we do not want to overwhelm them with all the details of operating an API platform at scale. We are just looking to identify how far along banks are in their journey, identify the banks that might be ready for streaming of financial data using our services, and be honest about which will need some help to get their API program kickstarted.
No matter where a bank is in their journey, we can help. We are working with a number of our customers to just implement a basic API strategy, helping them define, design, deploy, and manage a simple set of banking API. We are also working with others who are further along to help define an API governance strategy to help normalize and scale their existing API operations. Helping ensure banks have a robust set of API driven services isn’t just about selling Streamdata.io. We are interested in making sure the entire industry possesses a robust public API presence, because it is something that we will all benefit from–Streamdata.io, the banks, aggregators, developers, and most importantly the end-user.