Building an Agile Platform for Your Bank’s API Management
- Seshika Fernando
- Vice President - Banking and Financial Services - WSO2
If you have been involved with APIs for more than a few years, you will have seen how rapidly they have evolved as a technology and how different the path of API innovation has been compared to what people expected would happen. Could you have foreseen microservices or iPhones in 2000? Perhaps not. However, uncertainty about the future should not dissuade you from anticipating future trends and preparing to meet them.
Even though no one can predict what is going to happen, it is possible to make some educated guesses about the future. For example, it’s likely that banking will become more, not less, mobile in nature. Technologies like 5G will reward low latency APIs. Integrations will get more, not less, complex and demanding, and so on.
The best practice for being future-ready is to assemble an agile platform for API management. Such a platform is about far more than just the actual APIM toolset. An agile platform comprises that toolset, but also encompasses the people and processes that make it possible for the bank to field good business-facing APIs over the long term. It’s a structure that can adapt to the inevitable changes in the technology, as well as the industry and the bank itself.
Choosing the Best Tools to Fit Your API Strategy
Building an agile platform for your bank’s API management requires choosing the best tools for the job. You have a variety of options, but the best practice is to look for an APIM platform that supports the key workloads and use cases that drive successful digital strategies.
Here is a checklist of characteristics to seek in an APIM platform:
- Your teams should be able to expose APIs easily and securely, for internal and external consumers. This includes having the capacity to build APIs from existing services. This way, your organization can move quickly to execute on digital strategies that rely on APIs.
- The APIM platform should support flexible deployment models, such as cloud and on-premises, that adapt to your infrastructure while keeping service discovery seamless for developers. Flexibility in deployment translates into speed and agility in strategic execution. With the cloud, for example, there is no need to go through the lengthy CapEx decision cycle and setup of physical infrastructure.
- The platform then needs to offer design and runtime governance for the entire lifecycle of your APIs. It will facilitate the management of APIs from internally built applications, as well as from third-party providers. Digital strategies unfold, and change, over the long term. You have to govern the relevant APIs for as long as they are in service, even if their underlying mission changes.
- API monitoring has to be available so you can stay on top of API usage and performance, from inception to retirement. This capability ensures that you will meet SLAs and provide the kind of customer experience your strategy envisions.
- The platform must provide enhanced API security, including policy definition and enforcement. It should ideally integrate easily with security operations workflows and tooling. This is important for its own sake, but also to protect your bank’s digital brand.
Banks can take immediate, practical steps to make their APIs a key to success in competing with fintech firms and other new entrants in the banking field. With the right APIM tools, a bank can be successful with digital transformation, while complying with open banking standards. Getting there means thinking differently about APIs. They are no longer just contracts between pieces of code. They are products, potentially part of dynamic, agile solutions that reinvent how customers experience banking.
The step-by-step process of making APIs an integral part of a competitive strategy begins with assessing your bank’s API maturity level. From there, you need to identify your API needs and business opportunities. You will convert existing capabilities and data into APIs, which will almost surely involve exposing APIs to external users.
Going forward, you build or modernize your API management toolset, creating an internal API registry and establishing a workable API governance model. Doing this right will probably mean connecting business and technical teams. As stakeholders get familiar with your bank’s new generation of business-facing APIs, you can start to build API products and mashups that offer new business capabilities and customer experiences.
Along the way, you’ll have to bolster API security and monitoring to ensure that APIs work as intended and stay secure. If you’ve done your work properly and built an agile API management platform that spans technology, people, and processes, you’ll be ready for the API future in banking. It’s coming, whether you’re prepared for it or not. With an agile platform, you will be positioned to meet future technological challenges and keep your bank out ahead of the competition with transformative digital offerings.
To find out more, view our CXO playbook for bankers on how best to optimize your API strategy for digital distribution.