Banks should rely on APIs and apps

by CXOtoday News Desk    Oct 31, 2012

banking apiThe current application portfolios are thwarting banks from making the transformation they need to re-engage with customers and stakeholders, according to analyst firm Gartner. The research said that it is not applications, but apps that are enabling a new style of engagement with customers. These are focused on providing needs-based and context-aware services.

“The banking industry has lost its way, both in the services it provides to customers and its future profitability to stockholders,” said Kristin Moyer, Research Director at Gartner. He said that banks need to transform both their delivery models and architectures to remain profitable and relevant in the financial services’ value chain. Applications are preventing transformation in the banking industry because they are rigid and reactive.

The report said banks should stop relying on reactive product delivery and start providing a delivery model transformation that uses public and private Web application programming interfaces (APIs) and apps. This new approach, it noted will enable banks to deliver needs-based services that are relevant to the context, location and technology that will lead to proactive delivery that either anticipates a customer need or improves their financials. It will also allow banks to respond quickly to new opportunities, and third-party developers to build the banking solutions they need.

Moyer explained with an example. A mortgage refinance app that, like a weather app, can indicate (without customer initiation) whether it makes sense to refinance a mortgage, given current interest rates. With a few more clicks, the customer could apply and then view the process steps required for the bank to complete the transaction. “This would be an entirely new way of banking, and if banks ignore this trends they will quickly find themselves relegated to low-margin, low-growth market segments and products that will no longer be profitable,” said Moyer.

Retiring redundant, monolithic applications is necessary to improve agility and efficiency, but also to prevent out-of-control complexity. The proliferation of apps will increase complexity, and if a bank already has enough application redundancy, it will not be able to improve agility or efficiency by adding apps and APIs into the mix. However, APIs and apps can replace an application, or an app can call an application through an API or middleware layer.

Gartner analysts believe that the biggest barrier to banking on APIs and apps is not technology. Security, scalability, performance, complexity, regulatory compliance and integration can be managed through careful IT governance, extreme reuse, service-oriented architecture governance, API management, and other best practices and technologies. Other barriers are more operational in nature such as, the lack of a clearly defined design paradigm, governance model and accounting model, but the biggest barrier to platforms that provide private and public web APIs and apps, is the loss of control.