FINANCE

Steps towards building the largest CEE banking ecosystem

“The success of RBI’s efforts to create one of CEE’s largest banking ecosystems lies in the unique combination of building blocks.”

 

Published 3 February 2020

Growing demand for seamless customer journeys across industries and customers’ increasing expectations on instant connectivity that brings the world to their fingertips has become a driving factor for banks’ digitalization efforts. RBI strongly believes that Open APIs, as publicly available application programming interfaces that provide developers with access to its banking products and services, will shape the future of banking and deliver superior customer experience.

Contributor

Christian-Wolf_400x400

Christian Wolf
Head of Group Transformation
Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI)

PSD2 goes live: Open APIs as a fundamental layer for shaping the largest CEE banking ecosystem

If there was one thing that banks were sure about at the beginning of the year 2019, it was about PSD2 coming into force in mid-September 2019. European banks were required to provide corresponding APIs for Accounts, Payments and Confirmation of Funds. Operating in 13 markets across CEE, with the Czech Republic and Slovakia having already been ahead of the game since 2018, RBI had to ensure the compliance of all its other network banks in EU countries. While many banks across the continent had to request exemptions, RBI is proud to have managed to meet all deadlines in going live with RBI Group APIs. RBI is also proud to be among the European Banks fully complying with the Berlin Group Standards for PSD2 APIs. Having seven local developer portals in each of its PSD2-compliant countries, RBI is now moving towards consolidating the offerings across CEE, by reuniting all its markets on a centralized platform: the RBI API Marketplace (https://api.rbinternational.com)

Accelerated digital transformation: Connect, share and aggregate

RBI API Marketplace – a one-stop shop for connecting to CEE

RBI’s API Marketplace had a clear vision from the beginning – to connect RBI and its network banks to a strong developer community and to drive innovation by generating mutual benefits. Being launched as an MVP in October 2019, the RBI Marketplace has seen growing visitor numbers since then. In its later stages, the Marketplace will serve as a centralized platform allowing the publishing of, testing and access to APIs following harmonized technical rules and processes. Moreover, two non-European RBI markets identified successful use cases and developed “beyond PSD2” Premium APIs that subsequently were connected to the platform. In order to enable third-party developers to test APIs under real-life conditions and derive new exciting use cases, a dedicated sandbox environment is under development and expected to be live soon.

Sandbox – play, test, explore

Speaking of sandboxes, RBI is excited to have identified, modeled and built the first two use cases ready to be tested in a sandbox environment. “IDentified by RBI” will enable API consumers to verify customer identities by making use of RBI’s thorough KYC process for existing clients. Another use case, “ERP DataBanking by RBI”, will enable SME and corporate customers to handle their finances more efficiently through ERP and accounting systems that are tightly connected with RBI’s banking environment.

Open Banking is not only about sharing and exposing our own APIs but also about consuming and aggregating APIs from other banks and third-party providers. Consumption of PSD2 and other premium APIs is an important pillar of RBI’s Open API initiative approach as this allows the bank to thrive on the regulatory change and enable superior customer experience. Consuming third-party data facilitates the ambition to build new innovative customer-centric services and products such as account aggregation and scoring, based on PSD2 transaction history.

Building up the ecosystem: Create opportunities for innovation and engage new partners

RBI hosted its latest Open API Day in November 2019 as an integral part of our efforts to bring internal and external resources together to share knowledge and develop new use cases. Having drawn big cross-industry names shows that RBI’s efforts in interdisciplinary cooperation are highly appreciated by the open banking community. Hackathons have also proved to be the right approach in collaborating with developers to create exciting use cases with great relevance for customers.

Elevator Lab – RBI’s award-winning FinTech accelerator program

An integral part of RBI’s efforts to engage with the Open Banking community is its award-winning FinTech accelerator program named Elevator Lab. With this fintech partnership program, RBI is offering later-stage fintech startups support in developing unique pilot projects and scaling their businesses in close cooperation across the CEE region. In doing so, RBI provides top expert business mentors from a wide range of business areas within the RBI Group. They are supporting fintech expansion by sharing their expertise, giving strategic support and providing critical feedback. Additionally, external mentors are contributing with their specific know-how. All the selected pilot projects are funded by a dedicated Proof of Concept fund.

Bringing it all together

The success of RBI’s efforts to create one of CEE’s largest banking ecosystems lies in the unique combination of building blocks. Although already providing value of their own, they unfold their full potential in their synergetic mix of technological capabilities with clearly defined entry points into cooperation models and transparent and fair support processes. RBI strongly believes that smartly combining these capabilities will open new exciting options in open cooperation models that ultimately benefit all involved parties, from the customer to third-party providers to banks.

About Raiffeisen Bank International:

Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) regards Austria, where it is a leading corporate and investment bank, as well as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as its home market. Thirteen markets of the region are covered by subsidiary banks. Additionally, the RBI Group comprises numerous other financial service providers, for instance in leasing, asset management and M&A. Around 47,000 employees service 16.4 million customers through more than 2,100 business outlets, by far the largest part thereof in CEE.