Are you a financial firm looking to offer solid APIs (Application Program Interfaces)? If you are a little late to the party, not to worry…this article will explain the basics of what you need to get started.
Open APIs have been around the technology world for quite some time. More recently, financial institutions are deploying open APIs to generate an alternative revenue stream and enhance customer experience. However, just because an open API exists doesn’t many anyone will develop with it. “You need the infrastructure, community and technical support around it,” cautions ZDNet semantic web blogger Paul Miller “[For developers] the API has to do something you want, easier or better than you could it yourself, or bring some other benefits on the side.”
Recently, we’ve been discussing how banks and credit unions think about B2D (Business to Developer) platforms. Ready to put together your own winning API development team or find a partnership that will work for you? Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Clear Vision, Description and Documentation
What do you want your API to do? What customer needs do you wish to serve? Every API is different and should be thought of as a product. In order to provide a useful product, a company or individual must provide a clear vision for a prospective API development team. A good idea doesn’t simply define itself.
“There’s this common misconception that building an API community must come from the bottom up at hackathons and MeetUps,” says Jennifer Riggins of Programmable Web. “Yes, that helps, but building a community of API evangelists and enthusiasts has to be a top-down initiative as well,”
Start by defining a clear vision and description of outcomes. Everything must be written into proper documentation. Documentation will require a permission structure as certain authorized parties will be able to change documentation and others will require editing functions.
As Adrian Mott of Bedrock Data says, “Your APIs are the lifeblood of your app - they are your platform - get them right for developers by nailing your documentation, which doesn't just mean writing nice docs when you release a new API, it means updating your docs as a part of your greater documentation scheme as well.”
Step 2: Community and Support
Community definition is absolutely fundamental and building relationships with developers is key. Developers want to work in an environment where they can get recognized for their work. They want a welcoming environment that makes API integration easy to access and they want to make money with the product. Explain what your project brings to the table and what your API offers prospective developers.
Step 3: Design and Experience (UX/DX and SDKs)
Mark Boyd of Nordic APIs states, “A well designed API considers both users (UX) and developers (DX).” API users and customers will eventually sustain your API but to get to a large user base, you need to deploy the strong developer community built in step 2. Deploying basic technology development tool kits will get developers on the same page. “SDK (Software Development Kit) optimization strategy enables developers to create mobile apps that seamlessly connect with their API. This use of an SDK to reduce the Time to First Use (TTFU) is a best practice recommended by API expert, Holger Reinhardt of Layer 7.”
Step 4: Distribution
“Beyond technical support and quality infrastructure, Chris Saad from DataPortability.org said that, “if the network has no users, then it will have no developers…the reason development platforms attract developers is because of their promise of distribution.”
Banks have very deep customer bases. One way to leverage those customer bases is to provide APIs that serve customer needs. By leveraging long standing customer relationships and deep marketing distribution, banks can show developers a pathway to wide API use and distribution. In addition, banks have technology development budgets that can be aimed to incentivize particular API feature development. Want a new feature developed quickly? Run a developer challenge, offer a feature bounty, or sponsor a hackathon. Bank brands have enormous reach. Distribution capabilities offer great value to developers who generally lack such resources.
If you are interested in developing your API system architecture or would like to learn more about how to protect your customer data, contact our MX team. Our Nexus API and our Atrium API can meet all of your needs on this front.