By Steve Barrett, Senior Vice President, International Operations at Delphix
Technology is rapidly transforming all industries across the world. However, for the financial services (FS) sector, recent years have been particularly disruptive. Consumer expectations have evolved and convenience, flexibility and choice in banking is no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’ but a necessity. Alongside this, pressure from market forces to encourage innovation and drive competition across the sector has accelerated investment in open banking initiatives. These initiatives are designed to enable FS organisations to leverage customer data, in order to offer new and innovative products and services. It should be the ultimate system to deliver the next generation in customer experience. However, it’s not all smooth sailing.
In fact, research carried out earlier this year by Delphix found that the majority of FS organisations are failing to comply with government mandates such as the EU PSD2-SCA. To make matters worse, at the time of the study, only 3% of firms were confident they could meet the requirements for the next major open banking deadline – a date which has already been delayed by two years.
The open banking revolution could open up a whole new world of opportunity for FS firms. However, data privacy challenges and legacy technology stacks are impeding the transformation that is required. In order to fully unlock the potential of this new era in banking, FS organisations need to find a way to overcome these hurdles.
What’s the hold up?
The potential benefits of open banking are undeniable, whether you’re coming at it from the perspective of the business or the customer. For FS firms, the ability to share customer data between banks, fintechs and other technical organisations allows for more innovation and competition within the sector and will ultimately lead to a better product offering. In turn, for customers, open banking will offer better experiences, as well as more options for spending, borrowing and investing.
However, harnessing this innovation is not always easy. Given that data is often siloed throughout different departments within an organisation, it can be difficult to get the correct access. This creates challenges when it comes to effectively delivering data sets to those that need them to innovate and build new applications for customers. The issue isn’t helped by an overreliance on legacy infrastructure and systems.
Effectively accessing and utilising data for innovation becomes even more challenging when you add privacy and compliance concerns into the mix. Delphix’s research found that protecting sensitive data across multiple systems and APIs was the biggest data privacy and compliance concern for FS organisations, with 62% of respondents agreeing. By not adhering to compliancy rules, FS organisations are at serious risk of being hit by large regulatory fines. To add to that, without the steady stream of fresh, compliant data for the development and testing of APIs, FS organisations risk falling behind in the race for transformation in the industry.
With so many factors at play, it’s no surprise that FS organisations are currently struggling to find the balance between complying with privacy regulations and not limiting themselves in terms of innovation. In fact, 92% of FS organisations reported that they’re expecting to see a disruption to their operations as they roll out open banking APIs. However, there are measures that can be put in place to ensure success.
Harnessing the power of APIs
When it comes to integration testing whilst maintaining compliance, traditional testing tools for data management are actually making life harder for enterprise teams due to the manual requirements resulting in significant labour intensity. FS firms should instead consider implementing DevOps practices in order to deliver compliant data at speed via an API-driven data for DevOps platform. DevOps practices and tools increase an organisation’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity.
One of the benefits of using these platforms is that they allow the user to combine data delivery with compliance. This means that businesses can automate, scale and optimise testing across multi-generational systems, without having to worry about compliance risks. It helps to reduce the latency arising from an inability to find and protect sensitive data and deliver and refresh environments—for dev-testers working on new banking products—while boosting productivity and time to market.
A great example of API-driven data platforms successfully being used is with BNP Paribas (BNPP), one of the world’s largest banks. The business wanted to use data to maximise productivity and performance. The integration of an API-driven data platform allowed BNPP to accelerate application delivery across the globe, which led to development teams accelerating cloud adoption and seeing a three-fold increase in the AI production activity. Overall, the benefits of the project were undeniable. The quality of software being produced was improved with minimal downtime, all the while, adhering to the appropriate regulations.
Data suggests that many organisations like BNPP are starting to realise the potential of Open Banking initiatives for sparking innovation and staying competitive in the market. For example, in the first six months of 2020, the number of users of open banking-enabled apps or products in the UK doubled, and by February 2021, it had grown to over three million. To avoid being left behind, FS organisations should consider integrating an API-driven data platform into their systems. This will enable them to maximise the use of their data and step into the future of banking.