National Australia Bank (NAB) claim to be the first major Australian bank to launch a developer API which allows programmatic access to data. After doing some research, it looks like Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac all have APIs available, but are restricted business solutions. So what kind of data is going to be available to developers?
Initially restricted to a closed beta, NAB are starting small with just 2 datasets available through the API, branch/ATM locations and Foreign exchange rates. Over time its hoped NAB will allow developers to build applications that let customers securely connect and access their financial data in new an exciting ways. Right now electronic banking is very manual, with the best automation possible being a simple automatic payment schedule. But what if you could apply rules to your accounts, much like IFTTT, if the balance of X account is over or under a set value, then transfer X amount to account Y.
Having an API (assuming oAuth connections) would also put consumers in complete control of their data and what apps and services could access it. Imagine you use a service like Pocketbook to analyse how you’re money is being spent. Currently you have to do the amazingly scary thing of providing them with your bank login. That’s a horrible model when it comes to security, instead users should be authenticated to NAB and then approved access be tokened to services like Pocketbook. This means the token can be revoked by the user at any stage.
NAB will approve a small handful of developers to test and learn with, before opening the beta to further third parties early in the New Year. All participants will be vetted by NAB to meet our security standards. At this stage we’re really only talking about pull requests, its the push requests that need to be heavily guarded, especially when there’s money involved, its a completely different level of importance than your standard name and email details.
Developers approved to take part in the beta will be able to plug into the NAB data for testing and possible integration to their own systems (websites or mobile apps, etc).
NAB’s Chief Operating Officer, Antony Cahill said,
We have invested in our technology and built a rich source of APIs that we have been using for both internal purposes and external partnerships to leverage capabilities and deliver better experiences for our customers.
With the rise of the digital age and evolving customer expectations, APIs have become core to banking infrastructure to enable rapid deployment of various functions across multiple channels to meet those customer needs and quickly keep pace as those needs evolve.
Our API strategy is based on three key streams of customer enablement, partnership arrangements and open API categorisation which this portal will be an integral part of.
We are collaborating with a number of partners to both provide and receive data leveraging API technology including Xero, MYOB and VISA. We want to keep building our ecosystem with likeminded organisations to allow us opportunities to innovate and improve our experiences for customers”.
NAB’s first introduction to APIs began back in 2013 with the NAB Flik product (now Pay to Mobile in the new NAB mobile banking app). This has continued to evolve, with the new mobile banking platform rebuilt on strategic API architecture and the establishment of numerous partnerships to both provide and receive data using APIs.