Tag Archives: open banking

Why We Make Our Product Roadmaps Public

“Can you please share your roadmap?”

“What are your plans to engineer feature xxx?”

“Great product, but does your vision match ours?”

We get these questions all the time, from customers, partners, and analysts.

As the leading open source API integration company, it seemed antithetical to be open and transparent about our code, financials, and priorities, but not about our actual product roadmaps.

So we’ve now opened-up our product and solution visions and roadmaps for each of our integration-related products, all part of our Integration Agile platform:

Why would we do this?

There are a number of reasons we chose to take this bold step – a step that most high-tech companies shun as competitively risky, and thus guard their plans with absurd paranoia.

  • Public roadmaps are consistent with our open source community
  • We trust our community to work with us, and they can only do so if they know our plans. That way they are always involved in the technology and will be able to best deliver meaningful new features, contributions, and roadmap suggestions.

  • Public roadmaps signal our transparency
  • Transparency is key to building trust between partners. A public roadmap helps committers, partners and customers to know we’re pulling no punches with our direction. It’s also consistent with our no-lock-in approach… and that means there’s no lock-in to our roadmap either. With a transparent set of roadmaps, our technology partners know what to expect… and have a proactive vehicle to comment on the direction.

  • Public roadmaps are good for our customers’ trust
  • When our customers buy-in to our integration platform, they’re putting technology direction on the line. They want to know if we’ll be evolving in the direction they want. For them, it’s all about mitigating long-term technology risk. This way, we’re “opening the kimono” and boldly stating direction.

  • Public roadmaps show our pride, confidence, and vision
  • WSO2’s technology has been evolving for over 13 years. Over 350 engineers currently work on technologies like API management, identity management, ESBs, enterprise integration, and related integration architectures. This is one way of showing-off our vision and capabilities.

  • Public roadmaps are good for business
  • In sales situations, customers often ask pointed questions about specific (missing) features. And the usual answer “Yup, we’re working on supporting it” is always received with skepticism. Our public roadmaps put our money where our mouth is… either it’s on the roadmap, or it’s not. Or, we work with our partners to change the roadmap… for everyone else to see.

Next, what’s on our Roadmap roadmap?

This is the first of many more steps we’ll be taking toward increased openness and transparency. But the other critical component is your feedback. So if you have thoughts about our roadmap- positive or negative – there are many avenues you can use, including our Contact Us button – and include your feedback.

Evolution of Nations Trust Bank’s Open Banking Story

Established in 1999, Nations Trust Bank (NTB) is one of the largest private banks in Sri Lanka with branches located throughout the island. They’re not new to introducing novel concepts and innovation. NTB was the first bank in the country to introduce 365-day banking and they’ve recently pioneered open banking in Sri Lanka. One of their innovations is FriMi – which also happens to be Sri Lanka’s first digital bank, mobile wallet, and payment system that is fast gaining in popularity. In fact, NTB was named one of the top 30 local business establishments and FriMi was named as one of the country’s top 30 financial institutions by the Asian Banker magazine.

Pioneers in Open Banking

Unlike other parts of the world, NTB was not driven by regulatory needs to introduce open banking. They wanted to align their strategies to cater to changing customer expectations and enable collaboration and data sharing within financial services providers in the country. By doing so, NTB was seeking to create new business opportunities and partnerships with startups. Since NTB offers a vast range of services for their customers, their main challenge was ensuring that no service disrupts the functioning of another service and inconveniences customers in the process.

Nisala Kodippili, the chief information officer at NTB, explains that one of the main issues they faced were the many integrations done at different times and at different levels. NTB’s ATMs and mobile and internet banking services used different APIs. This created a scenario where there was a discrepancy in the account balance displayed when customers accessed their accounts via ATMs compared to when they viewed their accounts using mobile banking! NTB managed to solve this problem by developing a method where they use a single API and to avoid these issues faced by customers. Ironically this set the stage for a bigger problem. Whenever there was an issue with one API, the entire stack is disrupted making this a single point of failure for everything. When this happens, the only way to bring in a new service is to build multiple APIs from multiple systems and identity management at multiple levels is not an easy task.

The Right Technology

To manage the different identities and APIs better, NTB turned to WSO2 Open Banking. Leveraging WSO2’s API management, security, and integration capabilities, WSO2 Open Banking provides the technology for open APIs, third party services, and digital transformation of financial services. It is built on architecture that can scale to deliver compliance for different deployment sizes. “Maintenance is simple, if there are any changes you have to go through the API Manager and do the modifications,” says Nisala. NTB’s new architecture is created in such a way where only one identity is needed for various applications, enabling them to collaborate all identities onto one platform.

Thanks to their new solution, NTB is now able to integrate easily with any new third party within a week. Nisala says that he and his team were astounded by the improvements, “It’s simply a matter of somebody consuming our API and even I didn’t expect the other service providers to follow us. But I’m proud to say that service providers and other third-party integrators who are working together are willing to move to the standard level. They are consuming our APIs very quickly.

Customer Satisfaction is Key

Customers who want to make any changes to their account now only need to make this change once and it reflects on all other services. Security has also improved and NTB has extensive monitoring capabilities where they can control the level of APIs consumed by a single party. “It’s very easy, even at the merchant level we can control the API consume levels,” Nisala explains. Using single sign-on for all applications has helped them to eradicate the issue of duplication of identity. WSO2 Identity Server manages this for NTB, regardless of what the third party application or any other application brings in. This has improved the user experience tremendously.

Nisala says that NTB has unlocked their true potential by venturing into open banking and their new architecture which is free from single point failure has helped them reach new heights. “WSO2 has enabled us to build, scale, and secure sophisticated integration solutions to achieve our digital agility,” says Nisala.

To learn more about NTB’s open banking journey, watch Nisala’s presentation.

Curious to learn more about WSO2 Open Banking? Everything you need to know is here.

Open Banking Implementations in Europe and Africa: The Story of Société Générale (So Far)

Investment and retail bank Société Générale has its headquarters in Paris, France plus 45 branches in 36 countries, representing over 18 million customers globally. Retail banking services support 3 business lines in the regions of Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean, and Russia. Their 2020 strategic plan is simply named “Transform to Grow.” Open is the keyword here. “We want an open approach to develop offers and client satisfaction,” says Jean-Louis Rocchisani, enterprise architect at Société Générale.

The Transformative Powers of Open Banking

Open banking plays a crucial role in Société Générale’s transformative approach to business growth. Their open banking journey started in 2015, having recognized the opportunities it presents for improving the time-to-market and reforming their business model. Their open banking efforts have not passed by unnoticed. Recently, Société Générale was selected as the most advanced company out of 44 listed companies in the French market. After investing in the needed architecture, Société Générale now looking to extend towards the bank as a platform model.

Société Générale also sees the the transformative power of technology and APIs in its future. “We’re currently in the proprietary model, but we see the opportunities to increase our distribution power by creating a smooth digital end-to-end process,” says Jean-Louis. “We’re also looking to monetize our services and most importantly, create interactions between service producers and customers – which is also quite hard to launch. But this is possible because we have APIs as a product.”

Société Générale is guided by open banking drivers in the many parts of the world that they operate in. These include PSD2 compliance and beyond in Europe, modernizing B2B2C models, and enhancing digital banking services (as is the case in Africa). Community plays a central role in Société Générale’s open banking efforts, as markets are different and evolving across countries, and working with local communities of financial service providers is essential.

Jean-Louis presenting at WSO2Con EU

How Société Générale Came Across WSO2 Open Banking

Société Générale and WSO2 have a strategic partnership that dates back to 2015, ever since the first successful implementation. Their first success story and the fact that WSO2 is open source were major deciding factors for Société Générale. SOSMART is the acronym for Société Générale’s architecture principles which are sustainable, open, modular and real-time, and API first. They were looking for a technology partner who would accompany them for the entirety of their open banking journey. WSO2 Open Banking provides the technology for open APIs, secure integration with banks and third parties, and integration analytics capabilities. “WSO2 has innovative products, efficient people, and a shared vision with us,” explains Jean-Louis.

Use Cases From Africa and Europe

Germany: This was the first use case implemented by Société Générale and is centered on equipment finance, financing for big customers through vendors. This project began by implementing a B2B2C platform using WSO2 Open Banking, using the support from local vendors. This platform is now extended to include international vendors as well, using a federated model rather than a shared one to improve its efficiency.

Czech Republic: A large bank in the Czech Republic needed to leverage PSD2 towards open APIs, using WSO2 Open Banking. The bank is now working with fintech developers and partners in the country, using the API platform which was launched. This bank is looking to close the gap between iteration and deployment and they’re satisfied with their progress so far.

Africa: Société Générale works on innovations to digital and mobile banking rather than regulatory compliance in their African business operations. They currently have 12 banks in Africa, all of whom are different despite sharing the same core banking system and is therefore difficult to scale use cases from one country to another. An API layer has reduced the time to market, and the next stage is to open this platform to fintechs and other service providers in the ecosystem.

France: Société Générale’s French overseas territories banks have to achieve PSD2 compliance. In spite of the tight deadline, Société Générale believes this can be achieved on time and are using WSO2 Open Banking to speed up the implementation.

What’s Next?

With experience gained from a string of successes, Société Générale has more exciting projects lined up together with WSO2 Open Banking. For Jean-Louis, technology is an enabler (and not a constraint) and he says, “We believe in an interoperable world, where technology opens up possibilities leading to more success stories.”

Listen to Jean-Louis’s complete presentation in this video.

WSO2 Open Banking helps you achieve regulatory compliance in Europe and Australia, with successful use cases from around the world. Learn all about its capabilities here.

Ask an Expert: Catching up with Seshika Fernando

Women in engineering are unicorns (almost) and that’s probably why #Ilooklikeanengineer became a thing. But WSO2, with a 30% female representation, tells you a different story. Plus, we consider everyone at WSO2 a handpicked lot. So is Seshika Fernando. She’s a Chevening scholar, a speaker at conferences around the world, backed by both finance (London School of Economics) and computer science. Outside her workspace she’d be playing basketball as if it were rugby or making sure her son Ezra is getting enough sleep.

We caught up with Seshika recently to speak to her about her transition from the WSO2 analytics team to financial solutions, why open banking is taking over the world, and why she encourages more girls to join the IT industry.

1. How have your experiences at WSO2 been so far?

It’s been great! I was originally involved in data analytics while in the Research team. Now I manage the financial solutions initiative at WSO2 where I am able to capitalize on my background in Finance and create specialized solutions on top of WSO2 products, catered towards the specific business requirements of the financial industry.

I’ve had great experiences at WSO2. From being able to speak at atleast half a dozen international conferences a year, to interacting with some of the largest brands in the world, to playing basketball. WSO2 has been a great place to work irrespective of the team I belonged to.

2. How did the idea for building an open banking solution come about?

Open banking is taking over the banking world – not only in Europe but globally. And our open banking solution, built on top of the battle hardened WSO2 products, is proving to be very useful in all these markets.”

WSO2 gave me a challenge – “create solutions for the Financial Services industry using WSO2 products.” With a background in Computer Science as well as Finance, I took this up with open arms. At the time we started this initiative, PSD2 was taking over every conversation in the European banking sector.

With many of our existing customers coming to us with the PSD2 requirement, we forged ahead and created WSO2 Open Banking. Now in retrospect, this was the best decision we made. Open banking is taking over the banking world – not only in Europe but globally. And our open banking solution, built on top of the battle hardened WSO2 products, is proving to be very useful in all these markets.

3. This leads us to believe that the market for PSD2 solutions is open to many forms of competition. How did you formulate a technical and sales and marketing strategy to ensure WSO2 stands out?

Yes, there was stiff competition when we started. However, thanks to the vast capabilities of WSO2 products, surviving and thriving within this landscape have been easy.

There was stiff competition when we started. However, thanks to the vast capabilities of WSO2 products, surviving and thriving within this landscape have been easy.”

First of all, even though we entered the race late, we realized that most of the requirements of the PSD2 regulation can be serviced through the existing WSO2 products. Technically, all we had to do was wire everything together, add any missing features, and package an end to end solution which enabled banks to achieve full compliance very quickly.

We had to go for a very aggressive sales and marketing strategy in order to gain traction in a market that was full of different types of competition (not just our usual middleware competition). So we planned different types of campaigns to first create awareness and then engage with banks that were outside our usual customer base. Once we did the first few implementations, word got around and we were getting a large number of requests from both European and non-European banks.

4. Can you tell us about your experiences with customers who are trying to become PSD2 compliant? What are the key challenges they face?

Security is the utmost concern for all banks. Since it is sensitive customer data that is being exposed, banks that engage with us emphasize the importance of the ability to secure data and its access, above all other requirements. The WSO2 Open Banking solution overcomes all security challenges, since it incorporates WSO2’s very strong and proven IAM offering.

Most of our customers are also looking for ways to make their regulatory investment worthwhile, by being able to earn some revenues from their implementation of PSD2. With a digital transformation focused open banking implementation, our open banking customers are easily able to achieve this.

5. It seems obvious that banks will need to think beyond API when planning a technology strategy for compliance. How difficult/easy is to convince them to do so?

When we look beyond the regulation and discuss implementation details with each bank, the need to integrate with existing internal systems, the requirement for comprehensive Identity and Access management, the capability to onboard third party providers, and the necessity to have a strong analytics component to achieve regulatory reporting requirements comes to light. These requirements are usually enough for customers to understand the necessity for an overall technology strategy rather than just an API strategy.

However, we don’t just stop there. We understand that each customer (big or small) is making an investment to extend their technology platforms in order to satisfy these requirements. We help the customer identify ways that they can reuse the technology they are investing in, to further digitize and optimize their existing processes in a way that promotes market expansion and create new revenue streams.

6. What are your thoughts on how open banking will be adopted globally?

It’s only a matter of time before open banking becomes a must have for all banks globally.”

Well, all regions are moving towards open banking albeit at different paces. Australia is next in line to implement open banking through regulation and there are many other regions such as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, etc., that have stated their intentions to mandate open banking through regulation.

In the meantime in all other parts of the world, even without regulatory pressure, individual banks are adopting open banking due to the many benefits they can achieve especially in an environment where they could be the first movers to a new ecosystem. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before open banking becomes a must have for all banks globally. WSO2 is excited and ready to work with each region on their specific open banking journeys.

7. Finally, as a woman playing a leadership role in a technology company, what is your advice to other women in the field on how they can reach the highest pillars of success?

I’d encourage more and more girls to join the IT industry, and contribute towards development of great products that are created by a diversified workforce for a diversified consumer base.”

I believe that being female does not have any disadvantages for a career in IT. Since women are the minority in this industry, it provides women a superb opportunity to easily standout within a male dominated workforce. Furthermore, the IT industry’s flexible working arrangements really enable us to balance work life and family life.

I would encourage more and more girls to join the IT industry not just to profit from its various benefits but also to reverse the gender imbalance and contribute towards development of great products that are created by a diversified workforce for a diversified consumer base. In fact, I’ve even written a blog post on the subject for the World Bank.

Seshika, 2nd from the right, Winner of the Young Engineer of the Year award for 2017 by IET Young Professionals-Sri Lanka

Three Months in to PSD2 – Confessions of the WSO2 Open Banking Team

It’s been 3 months since the PSD2 compliance deadline and the dust is settling in. Or is it really? Just like when it started, the post PSD2 landscape is viewed from different angles. It has been called everything from a ticking time bomb to a slow burn to a never ending honeymoon period. We think the biggest surprise was that everyone thought that January 13 was the end. It wasn’t, it was the beginning.

When we created WSO2 Open Banking, we knew customer needs would be diverse and every technology experience we deliver would be unique. Turns out we were right. Our journey with WSO2 Open Banking has unraveled some interesting experiences while working with different stakeholders in this compliance ecosystem. Here’s what we learned.

Confession #1: (Almost) Everyone was late to the party

Everyone (including us) started counting down to PSD2 from 6 months to 3 months to 1 month. But the reality was, January 13 was just the date when PSD2 was implemented by the EU parliament as a European-wide regulation.

Several regions across Europe chose to deal with imposing PSD2 in their own way. We’ve been tracking the country-specific deadlines quite closely and about 46% are yet to set an official deadline for compliance. We believe that the final date for compliance will be when the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) come into effect in September 2019. That’s good news for us because there’s still a large viable market for compliance technology! ;)

Confession #2: Compliance confusion did not discriminate

Over the past several months, we’ve worked with many banks of different sizes across Europe and they all had similar questions:

This led us to believe that banks, regardless of size, require a lot of guidance in the compliance process. It’s a good thing we have a team of experts to do just that!

Confession #3: They came, they saw, they vanished

When PSD2 first started gaining traction in 2016, the knee-jerk reaction of every API management and integration vendor was “this is a goldmine of opportunity we cannot miss”. So they went head on into the market with an existing product. Come 2018 when the need for compliance technology has evolved, these “first mover” technology vendors have gone quiet.

It remains uncertain whether it was the lack of a well thought out strategy to keep consistent market demand, fintech domination, or not giving the compliance market the attention it deserved. One thing is for sure, this is a highly competitive market for technology vendors like us. But no complaints, we love a challenge and are pretty good at winning them!

Confession #4: API standards (and the organizations writing them) are a solution providers BEST friends

A lot of shade gets thrown at not having a common API standard across Europe (version 1.1 of the Berlin Group API specification is yet to come, we’ve got our eyes peeled for that). However, Open Banking UK has got this in the bag by having a comprehensive API specification that WSO2 Open Banking supports.

When we first started out, these standards really helped set the base for building our solution. Our development team continues to spend a good couple of hours every week identifying latest improvements in the specifications and contributing to their development by participating in working groups.

Confession #5: Compliance is not a back breaker…it just needs a well thought out strategy

A lot of banks think of compliance as a major headache and seek a “quick fix” to compliance just so they can tick off the checkbox. The reality is, quick fixes can do more damage than good. PSD2 compliance is a big deal and if you go into it without a strategy, that’s cause for alarm. Even if you don’t have a dedicated open banking or compliance team you can still get the job done.

You just need to rally the right members, set your goals for compliance and figure out what you need from a technology vendor. Then you need to pick the technology that gives you value for money and won’t take eons to work with your systems and deliver compliance. It’s a matter of working closely with a solution provider towards a common goal.

Confession #6: Do your research or go home – The learning never stops

There is a minimum of 3 articles written a week on open banking. Everything from thought leadership material, opinion pieces (like this one), and publications from standards continue to explore and discuss this ecosystem. And what we learn from our conversation with customers is an invaluable source of research to keep abreast of where the market is heading. We treat each of these as a unique source of intelligence and they continue to nurture our product management, sales, and marketing strategies. It’s the only way to survive in an ecosystem as dynamic as this one.

It’s been a great ride so far and we can’t wait to see what comes up next! No doubt there will be plenty more surprises and exciting developments to look forward to!

The WSO2 Open Banking Team