BBVA launches an open API marketplace for developers

BBVA has unveiled its open banking programme and is making eight of its APIs commercially available for the first time.

The Spanish bank has spent over a year working with developers and businesses to refine how the service – the BBVA API Market – is delivered. It says companies, start-ups and developers will be able to use the eight APIs now available to build new products and services by accessing and integrating customers’ banking data – with their permission – into their applications.

Derek White, global head of customer solutions at BBVA, says: ‘Not only are we adapting to EU standard PSD2, which aims to boost competition in the industry, but are actually aiming to become the best platform on which to build new digital experiences.’

Initially, only Spanish customers of BBVA will be able to use this market – but it intends to roll the programme out to its US customers later this year, followed by Turkey, Mexico, Latin America and other unspecified regions.

BBVA explains that companies from ‘anywhere in the world’ will be able to apply to use the individual customer data sets from Spain – ‘provided of course the customer wants them to, and gives permission’. Some anonymous aggregated data sets will also be made commercially available – with the data broken down geographically or by sector.

The press release from the bank states that ‘companies can use the APIs available in Spain to create new value added services, deliver better user experiences by improving conversion and onboarding processes, manage payments, verify identities, forward notifications or analyze consumer habits and commercial behavior, among other things.’ These features, what we at Mapa consider to be the next stage in managing finances digitally, come with a security and data warranty from the Bilbao-based bank.

‘At BBVA, we believe the data belongs to our customers, and we want to make it easier for them to share their information with those companies that offer them value and are capable of delivering the best services for them,’ says Raúl Lucas, Head of Open APIs in Spain.

Senior Analyst at Mapa Research Stephen Jones comments: ‘With PSD2 becoming mandatory in 2018, all banks within the EU will have to make their APIs commercially available. At Mapa, we believe that banks should view this as a huge opportunity, rather than a threat. BBVA’s positive approach and willingness to get ahead of the trend is extremely encouraging and should be taken onboard by other banks.’

The bank says it is already working with IBEX 35 companies (the Spanish Exchange Index) in its domestic market, and also with management software vendors, such as Anfix, Simplygest and Sage.

BVA spent 2016 exploring this business model and how to make it work best for its customers and clients.  During this time, more than 1500 businesses and developers registered with the experimental portal to get a first-hand feel of the possibilities the BBVA’s APIs can bring to their businesses.

As noted in the FT, BBVA is one of the first banks in the world to launch ‘open banking’, which allows third parties such as retailers to use bank customers’ data (as long as permission is granted) to offer tailored products and services.

PSD2 and Open Banking will create opportunities for incumbent banks to better serve their customers digitally, as BBVA clearly appreciates. In the press release they talk about creating synergies with the most innovative tech businesses out there to build a new generation of digital experiences for customers that are as convenient and advantageous as possible. ‘It is about creating opportunities and helping customers achieve their ambitions.’

Bank of America has also revealed this week that it will be releasing customer data, securely, to third parties through APIs. They want to help customers view their financial information in one place, and make it easy to use third party aggregators.

Aditya Bhasin, head of Consumer and Wealth Management Technology at Bank of America, commented: ‘As one of the first banks to pilot with financial aggregators, this is a positive step toward enhancing safe and secure access for customers to their data. This is a key part of our API strategy, and will allow us to continue serving our customers in an expanding financial ecosystem.’

Research Manager Chris Ward says: ‘APIs are going to be a critical component of the banking ecosystem, whether they are mandated by regulation or simply driven through bank’s acknowledging the awesome potential of APIs to create great customer experiences. It’s great to see a major global incumbent embracing the opportunity and demonstrating that API based interfaces are not simply going to be the domain of challengers like Fidor. The industry is watching closely.’

Read more about our research on the impact of PSD2 here.

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