Hong Kong gets Open APIs.

Hong Kong makes banking better with Open APIs. Source: Shutterstock

Hong Kong helps banks develop innovative and convenient services

CUSTOMERS in today’s world want convenient, cost-effective banking and financial services solutions.

Since juggling security and regulatory requirements can be tough, banks need to work with third party vendors and solutions providers to “innovate quickly”. It’s something that most governments and financial regulators facilitate, and their tool of choice is the Open API portfolio.

Open APIs, in this context, refer to APIs that allow third-party access to systems belonging to a bank, while ensuring adequate security and consumer protection measures.

Hong Kong, however, seemed to lag behind, neglecting to establish an Open API framework in the country. As a result, banks seeking to develop innovative and convenient services for customers struggled.

Fortunately, that’s about to change. According to a recent press release by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), a new Open API framework for the Hong Kong banking sector has just been released.

Through the new framework, the HKMA has put forward four categories for the Open APIs: product and service information, subscriptions and new applications for product/service, account information, and transactions. Each category will be rolled out sequentially, between Phase I to Phase IV.

The HKMA expects banks to deploy Phase I Open APIs within 6 months and Phase II Open APIs within 12 to 15 months.

Upon receiving the deployment roadmaps from banks, the HKMA plans to publish a summary of roadmaps of the Open API functions from the banks for reference by the market.

The HKMA will work closely with the industry in the next 12 months on the deployment timeline for Phase III and IV Open APIs, taking into account implementation progress of Phase I and II, and international development.

“Open API is one small step for a bank, but a milestone for financial innovation in the banking sector. We hope that the framework will provide specific guidance to enable collaboration between banks and TSPs (third-party service providers), and ultimately bring new, innovative, convenient and safe banking experiences and services to customers,” said HKMA Chief Executive Norman Chan.

On the day of launch, 50 sets of financial data and important information were opened via API. These cover the information most frequently accessed by the public, such as statistics on Hong Kong dollar exchange rates, interest rates, the banking sector and the Exchange Fund, as well as press releases and Coin Cart schedule.

The remaining 80 sets of information will be opened via API by phases for completion by mid-2019. With the launch of HKMA’s Open API, stakeholders and members of the public can retrieve information and data from the HKMA’s website in a more convenient and efficient way for research purpose or for developing new applications.