Fostering competition within the financial sector has proven key to financial stability in recent years. While few central banks, regulators and supervisors have such a mandate, they have worked hard to level the playing field for new entrants. Assisting from the private sector has been IBM.
Utilising cloud technology, IBM has created a platform for fintech firms to build new applications for the market. The new cloud‑based Marketplace is the first offering designed to help organisations build and share applications and data, and has won IBM Central Banking’s FinTech & RegTech Global Award for Best Cloud Services Provider.
IBM launched the platform following the trend of fintech firms using application programming interfaces (APIs) to provide valuable features for their own applications while generating revenue by sharing their APIs as building blocks for third‑party applications; the third parties were typically traditional banks. IBM realised there was an opportunity to pair these fintech applications with financial services providers in one space.
The marketplace is open to fintech firms that create and share code for a fee. It is also available to organisations wanting to use APIs from the marketplace and add to their own intellectual property to develop a new solution. Fintechs can download a starter kit, test the exchange and either purchase APIs or provide their own for consumption by others.
The API Exchange Hub, as IBM has aptly named the offering, makes it easy to build and share applications and data. It enables financial services providers of all kinds to develop APIs and applications on a secure cloud infrastructure. It also provides a platform for developers at many of the fintech firms interested in working with traditional banks and start‑ups.
Currently, there more than 200 cloud services created by IBM and its business partners in the IBM cloud marketplace. The solutions can be divided into three categories: software-as-a-service, business applications of cloud software; platform-as-a service, cloud applications for developers; and infrastructure-as-a-service, cloud services that support IT operations.
Clients can access the product details of each application, read articles that explain how the applications can be used in real‑life scenarios, raise queries with an expert, watch an interactive ‘how‑to’ demonstration or start using the service with a free trial.
API marketplace users can select from a curated and validated collection of IBM and fintech partner (third‑party) assets, and then build and test in a secure environment. The IBM cloud platform also makes it simple to combine technologies such as blockchain, cognitive analytics and big data analytics within regulatory parameters.