Swiss Fintech Innovations Working Group Interviews – Open API with Jürgen Petry (Raiffeisen)

Swiss Fintech Innovations Working Group Interviews – Open API with Jürgen Petry (Raiffeisen)

Hi Jürgen, please introduce yourself and your rolewithin the working group

I have an academic background as Diplom-Physiker (advanced degree in physics) and executive MBA HSG in Business Engineering. Furthermore, around 20 years of IT project management experience as freelancer as well as employed. My work was predominantly focused on innovative solutions at strategic level with strong business impact. I worked for financial service providers (AXA, DBV), public sector (Swisscom, UZH, OIZ) and other areas of the Swiss economy. Currently I am dedicated to the role ‘New Business Innovator’ at RAI Lab, the innovation lab of Raiffeisen Schweiz Genossenschaft.

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Picture Jürgen Petry, New Business Innovator at RAI Lab and Project Leader Open API work group for Swiss Fintech Innovations

Why is this topic relevant for digital innovation in the financial industry in general and our members in particular?

The establishment of a common API standard to which all SFTI participants are committed will enable core financial software providers to implement this common API efficiently. Apart from potential cost and time savings of an API standard there can be huge implications on business models and the strategy of a company depending on implementation characteristics of an API standard.  In the broader sense, also FIs that are non-SFTI members will profit from these implementations. This will in turn increase the prevalence of this standard, resulting in a well-grounded foundation for other stakeholder groups (e.g. FinTechs) to build an application ecosystem on top. Finally, this will lead to a win-win situation for all of our customers, as well as for all FIs involved. In addition, the “Swiss open finance API” will help to showcase Switzerland as an innovation-orientated international financial centre with a leading edge app(lication) ecosystem.

What to you hope to achieve with this working group?

Our main goals:

  • Support the evolvement of an open app ecosystem providing substantial added value to customers without exposing them to privacy or security issues.
  • Define a common API standard through which financial institutions are enabled to provide information and services in a way that (amongst others) does not affect their overall revenue streams adversely.
  • Foster an ecosystem that (amongst others) respects existing regulations and does not provoke the establishment of new ones.
  • Create opportunities for FinTechs that permit them to develop innovative and sustainable new business models based on the availability of an open API.
  • Enable core software supplier to effectively and efficiently create advanced functionality and therefore added value for their customer base.

What are critical success factors and challenges in achieving this?

The consideration of two aspects is essential for this project’s success: The heterogeneity of the stakeholder groups and the substantial impact of the addressed issue on business models and IT-infrastructure. As a result, one of the critical success factors will be the consideration of the following concerns:

  • How will the customers retain control about the use of their personal data?
  • How may financial institutions retain control about their revenue streams?
  • Will there be a necessity to set further constraints by regulating authorities?
  • How do software supplier deliver more control to FIs without losing them?
  • Which sustainable business models for FinTechs will emerge?

Through taking these concerns in account very seriously, each stakeholder’s commitment to this project’s goals has to be ensured. This may be promoted e.g. by integrating each participant’s expertise in the definition of the goals of the working group and by carefully mediating the clarification of any significant difference of opinion.

A mayor challenge may arise if the business or IT strategy of a SFTI member company is opposed to one of this project’s goals (e.g. regarding the openness of the API).

From a technical point of view, no fundamental challenges are anticipated. This is because the underlying technologies are well established. Furthermore, API specs for banking already exist.

What did you already achieve and what are your next steps?

A first kick-off meeting was held to discuss the scope and goal of the working group. Also a first regular project meeting already took place. The basic settings of this project are fixed:

  • The project is split into subgroups, and the subgroups are staffed appropriately
  • The project’s vision, goals and strategic alignment are defined
  • First steps with regard to the API specification are completed
  • Coordinating the availability of an API sandbox has begun

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