Banks are traditionally locked boxes and while many have fairly decent mobile apps these days, there’s a lot more innovation that could take place in the financial world if banks opened up APIs (securely of course) to enable developers to build more create applications that ultimately benefit consumers.
Today the Melbourne-based Bank, Up, announce the beta release of the Up API and marks the introduction of the first new channel for accessing your Up data outside of their 1st-party smartphone app.
The API gives developers the power to integrate account balances (spending and saving), transactions and even push notifications in real time about new activity.
This initial beta release is limited in scope and meant for personal use only, so if you’ve got the skills, you can start building now.
Eventually, as the API matures, the plan is to support the ability for developers to build integrations and applications by 3rd party developers.
Up API vs Open Banking
Open Banking has received prominent and frequent coverage in the media so you might reasonably ask “Where’s Up’s Open Banking support?“. While we’re working to support Open Banking in the near future, we believe there’s more immediate value for our customers in delivering this Up API first.
Open Banking and the Consumer Data Right does not necessarily let you directly access your own data. Instead, you must go through an accredited “data recipient” that accesses the data on your behalf (and with your permission). Often these recipients will be accessing your data in order to provide you with financial products or tools. But what if you just want your data?
With Up creating their own bespoke API and trust models the company says they’re able to give you direct access to your data without needing to go through a middleman. But more than that, we can provide real-time updates so you can know as soon as money comes in or goes out.
This will unlock potential far beyond what will be possible (at least in the short term) with Open Banking.
Using the Up API will also allow you to extend Up to suit your own needs. For example, in the future you’ll be able to build your own tools to automate transfers or develop your own custom round-up logic.
That last line is really important. Right now it’s actually fairly difficult to create automated workflows with your money. For example, imagine you have a mortgage and a savings account, you would like to maximise the balance in the mortgage to reduce your interest.
It’d be really nice to setup a scheduled payment once a day for your average daily spend, so there’s always enough money for bills etc in your savings account. You could even have a bill draw from your savings account, then the exact amount be immediately moved from your mortgage to your savings (assuming you’re in advance on your loan.
This really could be quite powerful and bring personal finances into the 21st century.
Web hooks are a brilliant technology that free you from the need to constant query the Up API to check for new transactions.
Instead, web hooks allow communication with the app, anytime a transaction happens. It’s software’s version of “don’t call us, we’ll call you”. But we actually call!
This makes it possible to build all kinds of amazing applications and integrations. A bell on your desk that rings any time someone pays you? No problem. Hooking up your sprinkler system so it literally “makes it rain” when you get a salary payment? Inadvisable, but totally do-able.
It’s easy to see someone creating an IFTTT channel for Up and having these events trigger IoT actions in your smart home like turning a light green when you get paid, or red when a bill comes out.
Web hooks are offered by many great software companies to make real-time integrations with their platforms a reality.
Head to the new UP developer site for an in-depth rundown of what the API can do and how you can get started: https://developer.up.com.au/
As the developer site will explain, you’ll need to generate a Personal Access Token to make API calls which you can get from the API site: https://api.up.com.au/getting_started
There’s also a Github repository for the API. If you find issues or bugs you can submit them through Github.
If you’ve got a neat idea for the API, leave a comment below and let us know what you’re planning.