Sri Lanka’s Nations Trust Bank unveils ‘open banking’ API platform
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Nations Trust Bank said it has opened the door for firms and techies to directly link their businesses to their bank accounts for transactions and information sharing which can cut costs and win business.
NTB is offering an application programming interface (API) which can be linked to the computer system of a large corporation or a small business. Customers can use a bundle of software provided by the bank or write their own.
"The future of banking will be one of the safest public spaces, openness and inclusivity," NTB Chief Executive Renuka Fernando said.
"This is why we have taken the initiative to launch Nations Open API Banking, creating a framework for collaborative innovation and progress like never seen before."
Keells Super, a supermarket chain is one of the first users of the facility. It will use ‘FriMi’ branded application bundle provided by NTB to link its point of sale terminals to their bank account and customers.
But companies can also write their own software to transact with customers. The bank says it will use security standard mandated by the European Union.
"It’s time that banks let go of their ‘fortress’ mentality. It’s time to open up and collaborate," says Thilak Piyadigama, Chief Operating Officer.
"Open Banking is already popular in Europe and in the Far East where it’s governed by PSD2, which is the regulatory framework that sets standards for information sharing and security on Open Banking APIs.
"We are happy to say that Nations Open API Banking meets these standards. With Nations Open API Banking, we are joining what is becoming a global trend towards openness, collaboration and data sharing in the financial services industry."
While large companies can get their enterprise resource planning systems to talk directly to the bank’s computer system, small companies can use the apps provided by the bank or a third party software.
Companies will be able to do collect payments from sales, do payroll and also basic accounting functions like cashflow management, which is useful and cost effective for start-ups and small businesses.
NTB officials say small businesses have been big users of open banking in other regions and they expect the same trend in Sri Lanka.
Sanath Pilapitiya, from Future Netowrk Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, a tech firm that provides software for people to track vehicles say the NTB API has been a cost effective solution. Among his customers are parents who track school vans.
"My customers have to pay a small fee a month," he says. "There are payment delays because they do not have the time to physically make the payments."
Pilapitiya wrote his own software for customers to make payments. He says there was no upfront fee to start using it, and find it cost effective. When he tried mobile firms they had demanded one third of his revenues as well as a front end fee.
"Most people now have a smart phone, so they easily start making payments," Pilapitiya said.
NTB says it has ‘competitive’ costs for businesses to access the API and they expected to benefit from getting new customers and providing standard banking services to them.