API Centre open for business

31 May 2019

We had a record turnout for the launch of our API Centre at a special edition of The Hub in Auckland last week. More than 300 people attended the event, which included an innovation showcase where exhibitors displayed their API-enabled innovations.

Our MC Nadine Higgins, a popular fixture at many of our events over the years, warmed up the audience before introducing our speakers. Our Chief Executive Steve Wiggins was first up welcoming everyone to the launch and declared the centre officially open for business.

This was followed by a ministerial address delivered by Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Hon Kris Faafoi, and presentations from our industry guest speakers.

Official opening

Steve spoke about Payments NZ’s vision for New Zealand is to have the world’s most interoperable and innovative payments system, and how the API Centre was part of a greater body of work led by the industry to make this happen.

The opening of the centre, he said, paves the way for greater openness in payments and banking. It brings to life the opportunity for a dynamic ecosystem and new partnering paradigm that would benefit API providers, third parties and ultimately deliver new innovation to customers.

Steve described the API Centre’s five foundations, and how that service model offers fertile ground for innovators wanting to use common API standards as the building blocks for their innovations. Joining the centre was just the first step in a greater journey.

He said organisations could join as either registered API providers or third party Standards Users depending on whether they wanted to provide, or consume, API endpoints and payments-related customer data. Individuals or smaller organisations wanting to get involved in the work and use our sandbox to test their API-enabled innovation could join at an entry level as a Community Contributor.

He then announced the six banks that had joined as registered API provider Standards Users so far were ANZ, ASB, BNZ, HSBC, Kiwibank, TSB and Westpac. Two companies had also joined as foundation third party Standards Users - from the bigger end of town, Datacom, and from the smaller end of town, Kiwi startup Choice. Since the event, Paymark has also joined the centre as a registered third party Standards User. The team continues to work with other interested parties including potential Community Contributors.

Steve encouraged people to start having conversations within their organisations to figure out how they might want to get involved with the centre and its work. He wrapped up by thanking the 40 organisations and 110 people who had been involved with the API initiative from the beginning. In particular, he extended a special thanks to the core working group members who met on a weekly basis for over a year to work on the industry API pilot and framework development.


Ministerial address

Minister Faafoi opened his address by congratulating the industry on successfully delivering the API Centre. He talked about the importance of data driven innovation and industry collaboration, saying New Zealand had been quietly progressing towards open banking for some time. But there was still more work to come.

The Minister then set out his expectations for the industry in the immediate future. In particular, he wanted to see: 1) all major banks participating in the API Centre and working with third parties, 2) broad participation from across the ecosystem, with transparent and affordable commercial terms, 3) as much standardisation as possible in terms of APIs used and access to them.

He pointed out that banks should be working together in tandem to roll out APIs, rather than adopting a fragmented approach.

"I do understand that each bank has slightly different processes and approaches and it may be tempting to develop services in a different order, or just try and get ahead of the pack. However standardisation ultimately makes it easier and more efficient for fintechs and banks to partner with each other rather than reinventing the wheel at each step. This ultimately benefits the customer," he said.

The Minister concluded by saying that now was the time for organisations to get on board with the work of the centre. He expected to see momentum and a shift in attitude from the industry when it came to open banking initiatives.

For open banking to work, the Minister said, it has to be truly consumer-led. This means Kiwis need to have the ability to control and manage the use of their own banking data, which standardised APIs can provide.

He closed by congratulating the industry again on the delivery of this initiative.

"Don't just stop at what we have now, I want us to continue to develop, innovate and transform as I know you will."

Now it’s over to you

Steve concluded the formal section of the afternoon by showing congratulatory video messages from international payments experts who have been following this work including Jan Estep, President and CEO of NACHA, independent UK financial commentator Dave Birch, and open data guru Gavin Starks.

He also passed the torch on to the audience, by saying it was now over to the industry and wider ecosystem to make the centre a success and deliver new and enhanced innovation to Kiwis.

Find out more about the other speaker presentations in our article The Hub May 2019 – industry presentations. You can also check out a gallery of photos from the day.

To find out more details about the API Centre, including how to join, visit www.apicentre.paymentsnz.co.nz