The banking sector has seen tremendous growth with respect to APIs in the last few years. Regulations such as PSD2 combined with upstart companies looking to disrupt the space, meant that many large financial institutions have gotten on board with an open banking strategy. With so many new APIs made available came an equal number of developer portals. Which ones have done the best job of presenting their APIs and what commonalities can you learn from when implementing your own banking API portal? Mónika Alföldi-Zörgő of Pronovix offers her take on the building blocks needed to make a great banking API portal.
During the discovery process, the first contact most developers make with an API is the landing page. At this point in their API journey, users are simply looking to get an overall idea of what an API can do to help them solve their problem. When it comes to banking APIs, a basic need is strong data security. Deutsche Bank and Erste are pointed out as examples of providers that clearly highlight the security methodologies they use on the landing page. Users at this stage often want to see specific use cases. Short, clear descriptions of the API can help with this, visuals can also do the same. Nordea is shown as an example of a provider that conveys a clear message as to the possible uses of their API.
Once a potential customer has an idea of how the API can help them, they begin to evaluate the company to see if they, and their APIs, are trustworthy. There are several signals of trust that a provider can place on their portal. These include information on versioning, a changelog, and roadmaps. Sandboxes and playgrounds can provide safe environments for users to test out an API while continuing to help convince them of of the value of your API.
The next step that your portal should aid in is helping the developer get to hello world with as little pain as possible. Nordea is shown to excel in this regard by using training videos, OAI and Postman description files, as well as code samples and examples. For banking portals, data protection is of the highest importance it is a must to have clear instructions and examples about the authorization and authentication process. Another great aid in helping developers get started with an API is to offer language specific SDKs.
The fourth piece to building a great banking portal is to provide great documentation. By this point, potential customers have been convinced that your API can help them. Now they are looking to figure out how the API actually works. The three column style of documentation is a popular choice and often includes a live console for developers to try out the calls. The banking industry has its own specific rules and regulations so it is a good idea to include FAQs and knowledge bases to supplement the reference docs. Nordea went a step further and included a guide to PSD2 within their support documentation.
Lastly Alföldi-Zörgő recommends that providers offer ways to celebrate and show appreciation for the developers who take the time to invest in their API. This can be done in numerous ways such as a newsletter, a frequently updated blog, maintaining a community forum, organizing hackathons, and attending events. These different avenues give providers the chance to share success stories, grow a community around the API and generally give back to those who have chosen to support the API.