Financial Services

Fintechs Are Stealing Your Business. Now what?

Russ Musolf

The open banking revolution is on. Banks and credit unions can grouse about startups and financial technology companies taking their business, or take full advantage of the opportunities.

With open, or public, APIs, a bank securely opens data, products, processes or other business assets to developers and third-party partnerships over the public internet. The results can include: expanded market presence, increased sales, new innovation potential, stronger relationships with clients and new revenue streams.

That’s no small feat. So what does it take?

Everyone Has a Role

Your own open API strategy means your organization can speed up the pace of innovation and expand services for customers through collaboration and partnerships with third parties.

Business success is the responsibility of everyone -- instead of seeing an API strategy as something for the CIO and technology team to fix, or as a compliance issue to satisfy regulators with the minimum necessary.

View it as a business imperative. Representatives from all over the organization – from lines of business to product development, sales and, of course, technology – must team up on the strategy and execution.

Working together, you can pinpoint opportunities to collaborate within and outside the organization. You can identify new business possibilities and create a positive impact on customers.

Six Keys to a Successful API Strategy

Where to begin? It all starts with a comprehensive strategy. Here are six keys to success:

  1. Strategic vision: Get consensus on your top priorities for APIs. If your organization can agree on the most important one, the others can follow as business value and project maturity dictate additional priorities. At Summa, we have helped financial services clients to start small while thinking big – and it works. Your strategic vision may also take advantage of existing services, assets and differentiators that will increase speed to market or be more disruptive to the market and drive change.
  2. Cross-functional team: Bring together your business and technology experts. Assign product managers for every API. Be mindful of governance and risk management. Don’t forget about the marketplace including business drivers, competitive positioning, customer support, marketing and promotion.
  3. Strong partnerships: A consulting partner can assess your older legacy systems with an eye on forward-looking solutions for the strategy, design and implementation. Fintech firms and developer communities are hotbeds for ideas and partnerships. They can help you create new revenue streams as you market and monetize your APIs.
  4. Design for customers, not products. Get feedback at each step of product development. Begin with the end in mind, and don’t lose sight of the value you deliver to your customers.
  5. Learn as you go. Start with a small set of capabilities and target a small segment of customers to get feedback before any major rollout.  
  6. Educate customers: Most consumers don’t understand APIs or the benefit of a third party having access to  their financial information. Help your customers understand the benefits, emphasize security, and let them know they are always in control of their data.

Learn, Dream, Realize

Innovation is a journey that takes vision, experience, expertise, collaboration and attention to detail. We help companies connect with their customers, define business needs, and focus on opportunities to innovate and support their strategic goals.

At Summa, “Discovery Workshops” and “Technology Studio” sessions with our clients are where we start to understand their needs and start to formulate the strategy. The software architecture blueprinting, technical recommendations and co-creation help to create the roadmap. The usability design and testing provide crucial feedback from customers before going all in with the implementation.

The journey takes vision, patience, care and teamwork. Where you start depends on where you are now, what you hope to accomplish next and the biggest challenges that lie ahead.

For an explanation of APIs, read “Why API Spells Innovation and Success for Your Bank.”



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Russ Musolf
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Russ is the Director of Financial Services for Summa Technologies. He has more than 17 years of experience helping financial institutions solve tough problems through the smart use of technology. Outside of helping financial service firms get maximum business value from their technology investments, you can find Russ tackling DIY projects around the house with his wife, working out, and conquering single track mountain bike trails.