Open banking revolution begins as AIB first out of gate with open APIs

23 Nov 2018

AIB branch in Galway. Image: Martin Good/Shutterstock

Latest AIB move heralds an interesting dimension for bringing fintech and other services to consumers and businesses.

AIB has launched Ireland’s first industry-standard open application programming interfaces (APIs) that will allow trusted third parties to interface with its platform to offer services to customers.

Open APIs are a proven way to allow trusted trusted third parties (TPPs) to access – should the customer choose – their financial data in order to offer the customer a banking service directly, meaning innovative new solutions can be developed by external partners.

‘This will transform the speed and agility with which AIB can deliver greater digital customer experiences’

AIB was one of the first banks to launch APIs in the UK earlier this year and is now adopting the same standard in Ireland.

PSD2 levels the playing field

Earlier this year, the second Payments Services Directive (PSD2) became law across Europe, opening the doors to open banking. Under PSD2, banks in Europe need to make customer data available in a secure manner and eventually give third parties access to their customers’ accounts.

For TPPs such as fintech start-ups and alternative banking and payments platforms, open APIs are considered the best-practice approach for technology integration.

The technology specifications for AIB’s open APIs are publicly available. The bank also provides a publicly available dedicated testing environment, or sandbox, for applications to people to learn about and experiment with AIB’s open APIs in a safe way.

AIB now has more than 20 regulated TPPs interacting with its platform. According to Niall Buckley, head of digital ecosystems at AIB, these TPPs are making thousands of API calls every month, with volumes increasing rapidly, offering customers budgeting tools and financial management tools.

“In the past, this technical integration has been specialised, and in many cases bespoke, resulting in longer timelines and higher costs for our partners,” Buckley explained.

“Now, we have a standardised, secure, open specification for strategic partners to access our digital services and allow customers choice. This means that third-party partners can quickly and easily understand how to connect to us. This will transform the speed and agility with which AIB can deliver greater digital customer experiences, further demonstrating our commitment to backing our customers to achieve their dreams and ambitions,” he continued.

AIB has created the Developer Portal, which has all the information about its open APIs, how to use them and how to get access to the sandbox.

“Not yet a year old, the open banking standards are proving to be extensible beyond the UK market and are now becoming a critical component of any bank’s digital strategy and customer proposition,” said Imran Gulamhuseinwala, OBE and trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE).

“I am delighted to see AIB expand open banking into their home market, ultimately enabling customers in both the UK and now Ireland the opportunity to securely move, manage and make more of their money.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years