Sibos 2018: Can a centralised virtual ledger help banks join API race?
In the panel held at Sibos called “Cross-border payments over a virtual centralised ledger – future or utopia?”, speakers discussed the potential of a virtual ledger that could host not only all payments processes centrally, but also incorporate a whole ecosystem of applications that could benefit both consumers and banks in how they manage these payments before, during and after they are instructed.
Sulabh Agarwal, MD in financial services at Accenture, cited Expedia, Easy Buy and Shell as examples of companies that have completely rethought their business models as a result of going stale – for lack of a better word.
More importantly, the way they have done this is via the implementation of third-party APIs.
In the realm of financial services, retail payments is an area where you see some incumbency, and some already-established use cases for APIs, however limited.
An example is how BBVA offers financial products on e-commerce sites at point of sales. However, when it comes to commercial payments, things are much greener.
Niall Cameron, global head of Corporate and Institutional Digital at HSBC, highlights the importance of tracking payments through Swift’s global payments initiative (gpi), remarking that a virtual ledger would only increase the ability to track the payment in each step of the process.
Particularly with the potential implementation of APIs, which would also see the introduction of alerts and bots that could keep both customer and bank about significant events during the payment journey.
Peter Maddison, executive director at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), says that a solution like this would make payments faster, more flexible, and more importantly, more consistent, as they do not go through the several banks, which each have different banking schedules according to the time zone etc.
This route may just be the way banks can fight off fintechs in the area of payments, and their series of workarounds that have proved to be quite a success in the retail area of financial services.
With the ability to implement APIs, things would look up for banks. The whole panel seemed to agree on the need to experiment – it is clear that implementation of APIs in this area is a bit of a conundrum, so testing and trialling possible solutions is a much needed priority.
This article is also featured in Daily News at Sibos 2018, our flagship daily publication at the Sibos conference.
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