How Open APIs Are Reshaping the Future of Payments

Open APIs promise to fundamentally transform the experience of payments for end-users, ranging from private individuals to global corporations. Whether driven by the global rise of FinTechs and real-time payments, or by regulations such as PSD2 in Europe, it’s clear that the momentum towards open APIs is now irreversible. As a result, it will soon be the norm for consumers and businesses to obtain account information and initiate and track payments using third-party applications that connect directly into banks’ systems via public domain APIs. But this isn’t just a big change for customers – it also brings huge implications for banks, not only around how they source, manage and use payments technology but also around how they differentiate themselves in the payments marketplace.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are neither new nor as complicated as their name suggests. Originally developed 15 to 20 years ago in the era of enterprise systems and service-oriented architecture (SOA), APIs are software tools that enable different systems and applications to talk to each other and share processing and data. In their early days, APIs were largely internally-focused, proprietary and non-standardized, meaning they were inaccessible to the outside world and that substantial customization work was needed to link to them. But today, with the emergence of open APIs, their role and importance have escalated to a whole new level.

The big differences with open APIs are that they’re visible externally and easier and simpler to access – and their emergence over the past decade or so reflects the rise of the developer as a force in corporate IT. In an era when enterprise software was traditionally procured by the central IT funct ...

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