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API Stairway: The Five Steps to Open Payments

Five Steps to Open Payments

In my pre-EBAday rantings, I discussed Open APIs in the context of one of the greatest rock songs of all time (Stairway to Heaven, for the uninitiated). Waxing poetic about a topic is one thing, but marrying it to concrete steps is another. So, while our Stairway to Open API utopia was a nice background, it’s time to talk about the flights of stairs we’ll have to take to arrive at those pearly entry gates.


1. Ground Floor – keeping an open mind

I think it prudent to talk about the foundational setting we need to start the journey: An ‘Open’ mind and a digital transformation strategy in hand. If you’re asking, “how do we make money on X, Y and Z,” you are already asking the wrong question; the question you need to be asking is “how can I create a new experience that my clients will want and drive my new balance sheet forward?


2. First Flight of Stairs – adopting a startup mentality

How are you going to leave the lobby? By getting a team who is curious and driven. You need to have a startup mentality when it comes to Open APIs; a willingness to fast fail or fail forward is going to be key; not everything you come up with will work (as my colleague Lu Zurawski says, this is the ‘roll your sleeves up period… it’s going to be messy!’).


3. Second Landing - it's all about partnerships

A nice side table and a phone… this level is all about the partnerships and who you can dial if you need help. This New Payments Ecosystem is built around sharing and working together; if you can’t have an open dialogue with partners, you are likely going to be left on this floor…


4. The Spiral Grand Stairway – the innovation buildout

This can be as high and as long as you’d like—it’s the innovation buildout where we talk about all of the different services decoupled from the products at the bank. Look at the loan department with merchant offerings, have the ATM team talk with the private wealth org, new third-party apps married together with your card team – here’s where the fun really starts to take shape.


5. The Open Air Roof Deck – the sky is the limit

What would a discussion be without the open air top of the house? Once on the roof, the sky is the limit!


When all is said and done, the Open Payments era will be about combining the knowledge and innovation of experts from previously disparate industries, to bring new ideas to life. We have seen some of the tech giants take their first steps toward payments, often through acquisitions rather than partnerships. I believe true Open Payments will be the result of a partnership between a ‘payments giant’ and an established API platform provider, which brings best-in-class solutions from both sides.

Join the #newpayments conversation, tweet me: @digitalbankguru