Tuesday, 30 May 2023

OCBC Bank claims to be first bank in Southeast Asia to launch open API platform

5 min read

Singapore -- OCBC Bank is the first bank in Southeast Asia to launch an open Application Programming Interface (API) platform with the rollout of its own developer portal, Connect2OCBC, today. This API platform provides a range of services that allow software developers – whatever their focus, from fintech to lifestyle – to access OCBC Bank’s products and services in a fast and seamless manner.

OCBC Bank’s move supports the government’s Smart Nation initiative, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) vision to create a Smart Financial Centre and MAS’ drive towards an open API architecture.

APIs are tools and protocols used to build software applications. They are defined as sets of requirements that specify how one application interacts with another.

At launch, Connect2OCBC provides free access to the following four open APIs:

1. Branch Locator API: provides a list of OCBC branches as well as information on location and operating hours. One of the top customer enquiries received by the bank’s Contact Centre is from customers wanting to know where the nearest OCBC branch is. With this API, software developers can avail this information for their end-users on their applications.
2. ATM Locator API: provides a list of OCBC ATMs along with location information. End users of third party applications that use this API can easily find the nearest OCBC ATM without having to visit the OCBC website or call the OCBC Contact Centre.
3. Smart Card Advisor API: provides recommendations on which OCBC credit card to use for different purposes. For example, a dining website can recommend to its users the most relevant OCBC credit card to use at the newest restaurant in town. 

Said Mr Praveen Raina, Senior Vice President, Group Operations & Technology, OCBC Bank: “We are pleased to be the first bank in Southeast Asia to launch an open API platform. This is indeed a momentous step forward not only for us but for Singapore, as we move towards an “open data” economy, which is in tandem with the government’s vision of a Smart Nation and Smart Financial Centre. Building a Smart Financial Centre is not simply about using high-tech applications. It is about embracing innovation - which is very much part of the OCBC DNA. By taking the lead in transforming how banks work with the rest of the online community in a seamless manner, we hope to help spur collaboration within the industry to develop innovative solutions that will benefit consumers.

“The open APIs will put our data to more efficient use as it can be shared both internally across the bank and externally with third-party software developers. It is about being social. We want to create a “data social network” which facilitates free flow of certain non-customer data that will benefit any third party and the community as a whole in a secure manner. It will help us extend our reach to not only our customers but potential customers as well, while creating a better user experience. The API platform was developed in-house and we believe it will bring about significant cost savings, not just for OCBC but third-party software developers. We will be rolling out more APIs in time to come.”

Mr Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, said “FinTech is enabling banks to create better financial services and products for customers, with APIs as a key enabler for this innovative collaboration. Aligned with the API conference organised by MAS and the ABS in March to encourage the financial industry to leverage on emerging and innovative technologies, we are delighted that OCBC is taking the lead and contributing to the FinTech ecosystem with the launch of its first set of public APIs in Singapore. The enabling of these APIs is a step in the right direction towards an ecosystem that allows customers to benefit from interoperable FinTech innovations.”

APIs present opportunities for OCBC Bank and at the same time create value and benefits for both software developers and end users.

1. To Software Developers
• Faster time to market: The APIs can be easily integrated into both new and existing applications within a few hours; without APIs, It can take more than two months for a software developer to research, build and integrate the same functions into its application. 
• Easy integration: The software developer gains access to information on OCBC’s products and services which can be easily embedded into its applications. The APIs can also be easily adapted and integrated across various applications.
• Value Add: The APIs allow software developers to enrich their service applications with more and better features.
• Efficiency: The APIs allow for the updating of information, eliminating the need for software developers to check and carry out manual updates on an on-going basis and thus increasing productivity.

2. To End Users
• Convenience: With APIs, a software developer of a website or mobile application is able to provide all the relevant information needed for its customers on a single platform without the need for customers to toggle between multiple websites to search for the information. For example, with the ATM Locator and Smart Card Advisor APIs integrated into a dining guide app, users can locate the OCBC ATM nearest the restaurant they are dining at, so as to withdraw money. They will also be given recommendations on which OCBC credit card they might best use at a given restaurant eg. the OCBC 365 card which gives up to 6% cashback on weekend dining.
• Better user experience: With APIs, a software developer of a website or mobile application is able to integrate information from different sources so end users can better understand a fact in the context of other facts. For example, with the Branch Locator and ATM APIs integrated into a street directory app, a user mapping the route to a restaurant can also locate the nearest OCBC Branch or ATM to perform banking transactions after his meal.

3. To OCBC Bank
• Extension of reach: The bank extends its reach to existing customers and non-customers by providing relevant and targeted information relating to OCBC products, services and data – when and where needed.
• Building digital capabilities: OCBC has been at the forefront of digital customer and technology innovation. The API platform is the latest such investment that will enhance the bank’s product and service offerings as well as provide a better customer experience.
• Collaboration: Through innovative collaboration, OCBC and fintech firms or potential partners can now come up with more applications that will meet the needs of end users.

The APIs do not contain any customer information and have undergone the necessary system testing to ensure the API platform is secure.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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