Every now and then, we either spot or hear one of those money-quotes that explains at least one reason why all organizations should consider providing APIs if they aren't doing so already. Today, we came across one of those at ProgrammableWeb that had to do with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). RBS is the parent company to Ulster Bank; a company we just wrote about that is hosting a hackathon featuring the Open Bank Project API.
In the story that is hosted over on BankingTech.com, the author Elliot Holley discusses how RBS sees a future in startup-partnerships. The story quotes RTS Head of Global Transaction Services E-Channels James Lynn as saying:
“ Fintech start-ups are often agile, lean and nimble.....There are obvious advantages for RBS to partner with some of these firms. That’s where the APIs come in. The concept is to enable the services provided by global transaction services to be accessed directly and securely by players in the market, such as fintechs, software firms or other service providers.”
Lynn isn't alone as a banking executive when it comes to realizing that financial institutions are agility-challenged on the innovation front and that one of the easiest ways to fix the problem is to build an API program and then partner with smaller, nimbler startups and developers that can drastically speed-up the time-to-market for innovative, potential game-changing fintech apps.
Last year, from the NYC-stage of Citibank's multi-city hackathon that attracted a wide-range of smaller, nimbler development shops, Citi's managing director of global digital acceleration Jorge Ruiz said, "Hopefully today we'll make new business connections and partners and you'll be doing business with Citi." At the end of the three-US-city competition, Citi's chief marketing officer Heather Cox said "We are excited to work with many of the top teams of developers with the goal of bringing their solutions to market for Citi clients all over the world."
One of the things that makes executives like Lynn, Ruiz, and Cox successful is recognizing how agility is sometimes best bought instead of internally sought. You can of course try to change the culture of a big company so that it can steer more like a Ski-doo than the aircraft carrier that it is. But, in the face of stiff competition and small startups (eg: Stripe) that are frothing at the mouth to disrupt the status quo, most big companies can't afford the luxury of the time it takes for such a transformation.