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How APIs could help Asian FSIs deal with disruptions

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 22, 2015
APIs could enable FSIs to be more agile, help deal with silo systems, and provide their differentiated customer experience, says Will Bosma of MuleSoft.

Will Bosma, Vice President of Asia Pacific at MuleSoft.

In an exclusive interview with BankITAsia, Will Bosma, Vice President of Asia Pacific at MuleSoft, explains how application programming interfaces (APIs) could help Asian financial services institutions (FSIs) deal with disruptions from new technologies and new competitors.  

BankITAsia: What are APIs and why are they important to an organisation?
Will Bosma: I like to think of APIs as a window to the business. They're really a way of showing someone outside the business what are the key elements of data and processes that I'm really good at as an organisation, and how to access it. You want to make your windows, your APIs, as inviting as possible, so that both consumers and other companies want to come in and use your services. APIs perform a key business function in that aspect.

Internally, APIs are a way for one development team to open a window into what they do for other teams within a development or organisation. In this way, someone who is responsible for back-end systems can open up a controlled and secure window to those systems that will allow someone who's building new processes to use what other teams have built.

If we think of APIs as a window to the business, APIs also help you do a couple of things. They help you create new channels to market and new ways of distributing products, such as  redistributing your products on someone else's programme. You want companies to build new customer experiences on top of your APIs,so that you can generate new sources of revenue.

Often, APIs also provide a platform for innovation. You want companies to build new experiences using your API. For example, FSIs often expose their payments system through API, allowing other companies to use that API to provide a payment system in which they deliver their own goods and services.

Why is it critical for Asian FSIs to adopt an API-led connectivity approach today?
Firstly, like every other organisation, FSI consumers are looking for an increasing differentiated experience. Particularly in Asia where mobile phone and smart device usage is higher than anywhere else in the world, consumers are looking for an experience which is digital and almost exclusively mobile. At the same time, FSI consumers are not only customers, but also partners and employees who are all looking for very different experiences in how they interact with FSIs. You can only support these functions and experiences by using APIs — it's all about competition, and being able to maximise the customer's experience.

The second reason is that a lot of large FSIs have silo systems across parts of their business. For instance, a large insurance company in Singapore we recently spoke to told us that it has various lines of insurance: life insurance, general insurance, group insurance. So, one of the issues they're faced with is that they can't effectively cross-sell enough to their customers across those lines of insurance. They can counter this by leveraging APIs, and this may ultimately result in them becoming a more customer-centric organisation.


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