Open Banking: Developer Portals

Open Banking: Developer Portals


There are various aspects that need to be considered when setting up Open Banking. One of the elements relates to the developer portal. Developer portals are already widespread, especially among large technology companies, and are now becoming increasingly popular among banks as well. In this article, we will explain what exactly developer portals are and what added value the banking industry can gain from them.

What is a Developer Portal?

A Developer Portal is a dedicated website that serves as the first point of contact for potential API users, describing how to access the provider’s various data. Most often, the websites include sample code that is copied to access the service. Users are startups that need customer data for specific services or other companies that use data for commercial purposes and want to integrate a bank into their ecosystem. On the provider side, there are mostly international corporations that have collected large amounts of data about their customers.

Why companies offer developer portals

Developer portals usually show how their data can be used by means of numerous use cases. This can be interesting for a company because its relevance increases when it becomes part of a value chain through its data. Thus, API providers can be embedded in existing ecosystems and monetize the data, for example, Google’s or Facebook’s APIs are also needed by many companies for their services, which gives them a decisive market power.

How does the authentication work?

Portals offer data in different availability levels. Some data is directly available and can be loaded immediately with the appropriate code. In the case of banks, for example, this could be data on ATMs or branches that is not sensitive. For more sensitive data, a user must set up an account to obtain a key (“token”) that is embedded in the code. Finally, there is data that can only be used for a fee and, as part of consent management, only with the explicit permission of the end customer. Banks could sell anonymized data about their services, be it transactions, loan products or portfolio investments. However, the users of the APIs cannot directly infer certain individuals from this data and the information is used exclusively to train algorithms. If the users of the API – for example, fintech’s – obtain the consent of the end customer, they can use the personal data to further personalize the customer experience. There are different revenue models for this, which will be explained in a later blog post.

What can be found on developer portals?

Apart from the instructions on how to make the data available, the data must be described and defined in as much detail as possible on the developer portals. Each attribute must be explained in an understandable way so that it can be interpreted correctly. The documentation is the central tool here. This includes, for example, information on transactions with attributes such as quantity, time, counterparty, and location, or data on loans with variables such as quantity, term, and interest rate.  A central element of the developer portals is also the sandbox (“sandbox”). This serves as a training environment for visitors to the site. In this, written code can be tested end-to-end against the APIs with synthetic data. In this way, a user can try out his idea without much effort and familiarize himself with the interface. In addition, you can usually find examples on developer portals of how other users process this data. Success stories are often shared to make the application more palatable.

How Developer Portals make sense for banks

A developer portal can be used as a gateway to data monetization. In a first step, the bank must ensure that it is technically capable of providing simple, non-sensitive data. With the experience gained, it is possible in a second step to sell more sensitive and anonymized data. In this process, the bank can enter into an exchange with the developers to learn which data is interesting and incorporate the feedback received in this way.
An attractive and user-friendly Developer Portal makes it easier for users to integrate the data into their services. Through a developer portal, banks can be more closely integrated into existing ecosystems. This is also important from the customer’s perspective, as their bank can become part of interesting services.