“Building a good ecosystem within Switzerland”
The OpenBankingProject.ch initiative was launched this year with a view to creating new and innovative business models and promoting ecosystems. Adrian Berger explains the project’s background and ambitions.
What does open banking mean to you, and how are developments in this field progressing in Switzerland?
For me, open banking means unfettered, third-party access to banking services via APIs. In direct contrast to the EU, there is no legislation in Switzerland requiring unrestricted, third-party access to banking services. As open banking is voluntary here, we are still a bit behind the curve.
Open banking is a highly relevant issue for us, as opening up APIs for third parties is an international trend that will make new business models possible – even in Switzerland.
What are you hoping to achieve with OpenBankingProject.ch?
I am hoping for an open platform that will enable banks to become part of a digital ecosystem on a voluntary basis. At the same time, I hope it will enable fintechs to test Switzerland’s adaptation of the relevant standards in a quasi-real-life environment – and, with any luck, they will have good things to say about it. Above all, the platform should also facilitate interaction between the individual partners and generate know-how so we can build up a good ecosystem within Switzerland.
What sets OpenBankingProject.ch apart from other fintech and API initiatives?
I see two differences compared with the other initiatives in Switzerland of which I am aware:
- Its openness. Everyone is allowed, indeed welcome, to get involved.
- Its clear focus on providing a platform for testing Switzerland’s adaptation of NextGenPSD2 for third parties.
What sector does your company/institution operate in, and to what extent is the concept of open banking important for this business model?
As a software engineering company, we produce two components that facilitate the implementation of secure open banking solutions:
- The Airlock Secure Access Hub protects access to exposed APIs and uses identity and access management to ensure that only authorised users are granted access to the APIs.
- Our Swiss Open Banking Solution enables banks to grant third-party companies access to their banking services via APIs conforming to the Berlin Group’s NextGenPSD2 standard.
In short, we supply the software components that make open banking possible.
Why is the OpenBankingProject.ch being launched at this precise moment?
The project should be viewed against the wider backdrop of the EU’s PSD2 directive but it was lent additional momentum by a highly topical consideration. Since autumn 2019, financial institutions in the EU have had to make their APIs available to third parties and, in many member states, this has led to the emergence of standardisation movements within the software industry – notably, the Berlin Group in Germany and Open Banking in the UK. The object of the exercise is for as many banking institutions as possible to fulfil the regulator’s requirements in the same way, with a view to promoting the concept of open and standardised access for third parties.
Where do you see the potential in open forms of collaboration and digital ecosystems? Will there be a revolution in the financial sector and the economy at large or are these simply the latest trends in the intellectual dress code of digitalisation enthusiasts that will be here today and gone tomorrow?
A good digital ecosystem will allow various partners to contribute their particular strengths, creating new solutions that would never previously have been possible with such potency, quality and usability. The enforced break-up of the value chain imposed by the regulator in the EU makes real innovation possible here. I am excited about the new solutions to come, as I have no doubt they will bring improvements. The solutions found for certain use cases will be better, faster and more efficient than their predecessors.