July 11, 2015
The job of a good application program interface (API*) is to provide all the building blocks for developing a system/program so that a programmer can then put these blocks together in the best possible way. As FinTech companies are sprouting quickly the world over, we take a look at the necessary qualities that a good FinTech API needs to incorporate to help the world of code in building FinTech products and services.
1. Make it easily adaptable and moldable.
APIs must adapt to its specific use scenario so that a developer can get what he or she wants out of it with minimum coding efforts; most API sellers fail in offering this. When an API is way too broad and in-depth to tame, developers get frustrated and abandon it, only to latch onto something that is more adaptable to their needs and the type of apps they are building.
2. Make it customized, depending on individual needs.
Earlier, most APIs came with a one-size-fits-all attitude which was based on assumptions that were no longer valid. They were more data-centric instead of being developer-friendly. It resulted in very cryptic and complex systems that were not easily usable or moldable by external developers.
3. Make it for the cloud-friendly.
Earlier, APIs were built for networks which were slower and far more expensive. Also, they were designed more from the perspective of data storage than as an active ingredient of coding, which would be called over and over again. APIs now need to be constructed keeping in mind the reduction in price for network bandwidth and the ability of the cloud ecosystem to provide fast access to massive amounts of information. All FinTech companies now float their products on cloud services, so they should be able to access API data like an on-premise database. If it’s on the cloud, it’s on their fingertips.
4. Make it exclusive to your clientele and inclusive of all they want.
When launching an API, keep in mind that it should be run with an agile process with alpha and beta versions which are not widely distributed. Versioning should be used sparingly. APIs for FinTech clients should focus on how financial data can be used to power many different types of applications and not just trading systems. The key is to be inclusive of all the needs of the FinTech sector.
5. Make it app-facing.
Mobile apps, personal finance apps, digital wealth management and payment systems are the nomenclature of the future. Make APIs that offer a user interface for developers; focus a lot on design and make clean interfaces.
6. Make it mix-friendly.
Why not use technology in all its forms to offer something that is irresistible? Mix and match technologies to make APIs that give the developer all that he or she can dream of.
Here are some companies whose fintech APIs are being used extensively to build next generation products.
For developers/startups using (or thinking of using) APIs please plan it out really well. You need to be absolutely clear about the objective. Things such as a good understanding of the call limits and throttling because most of the times you are charged call-based, and you get specifically what you ask for. You will be paying for raw stuff as opposed to the finished product. You need to build out your system very well taking care of how data is retrieved, stored, processed, and visualized.
*Note: API, an abbreviation of application program interface, is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API specifies how software components should interact and APIs are used when programming graphical user interface (GUI) components.