Presented by Wells Fargo
The API landscape
A few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine financial institutions opening up their software to outside organizations. But today, it’s becoming common practice, and for good reason — it’s significantly improving customer experiences. Most importantly, banks are able to do this in a secure way, thanks to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
As both consumers and enterprises have started to move toward mobile-first behavior, their expectations around experiences have started to change. Financial institutions and other industries, including healthcare and retail, have been able to innovate and adapt quickly with APIs since these tools can easily link new technology with legacy systems. The beauty of APIs is that they work with any operating system, machine, or mobile device, standardizing access and allowing apps to easily communicate with each other.
How APIs are changing finance
In finance, API data-exchange agreements allow banks, fintechs, and others to work together to provide the experiences customers are looking for. By sharing select information, companies and consumers benefit from things like the ability to keep credentials private, storing information in one place, and faster payments.
APIs allow users to do business more easily, as fewer steps and processes are required, whether through removing credentials or requiring less data input. Additionally, because APIs are in constant communication with each other, information is updated in real-time, with access to the most accurate, critical information. Finally, companies using APIs can go to market faster, cutting time from the development cycle. Taking banking out of the bank and into a native digital experience provides new value to customers and our customers’ customers.
Over the past several months, Wells Fargo announced plans to open our API Gateway to Intuit and Finicity, allowing consumers to gain greater control over where their financial information is located. Agreements like these have made Wells Fargo data portable in a secure way. For example, Wells Fargo’s customers who use financial management applications such as Mint and TurboTax can choose to import bank account details. Not only does this save customers time from manual data entry, but also ensures the accuracy and reliability of the data.
Businesses working with large, regulated financial institutions on APIs also a benefit. For example, say you’re selling a product through an online marketplace. If that website or app embedded the Wells Fargo ACH payments API, you could check status in real-time to know with confidence that the buyer has sent payment.
ACH payments, account validation, and foreign exchange are just some of the other transactions that are being done faster, with better information, and more convenience for all parties involved. Integrations are also happening faster — with APIs, it’s not uncommon for banks to complete integrations with other platforms in less than two weeks, a significant decrease in the amount of time this took in the past. And, the possibilities with APIs will continue to expand.
Where will APIs take us in the future?
APIs allow banks to meet customers where they are, and we’ll likely see the technology integrated into new places. APIs already play a predominant role in mobile apps, social media platforms, wearables, and online shopping experiences.
I am also seeing a drive to accommodate traditional banking services in new ways through API channels. For example, an insurance company can pay out a claim directly to its customer’s debit card in near real time, which drives a positive customer experience.
As the Internet of Things continues to expand deeper into our lives, APIs will play an increasingly significant role. All of our connected devices, from in-home virtual assistants to smart watches and fitness apps, collect a lot of data. APIs help connect that data, providing more valuable insights and value to users.
As more and more of our everyday devices are connected, the conveniences for users will increase. However, it’s also important that consumers understand and consent to allowing us to use their data — and that companies commit to using that data to truly add value.
Secil Watson is Head of Digital Solutions for Business at Wells Fargo.
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