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What are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
What are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
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What are Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

19/09/2019

An API is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing and exchanging data. Basic interoperability programmes supporting information exchanges can be traced back to the 1960s. Yet the growth of APIs in the last decade has been nothing short of astronomical.


An API provides a frictionless system-to-system communication channel to facilitate automated sharing of data in accordance with a pre-agreed structure. It eases the access to data, the creation of new tools and reports and the exchange of information between platforms, as it is eliminating the time consuming process of multiple integration points in the clients internal applications.

An API is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing and exchanging data. Basic interoperability programmes supporting information exchanges can be traced back to the 1960s. Yet the growth of APIs in the last decade has been nothing short of astronomical.

 

An API provides a frictionless system-to-system communication channel to facilitate automated sharing of data in accordance with a pre-agreed structure. It eases the access to data, the creation of new tools and reports and the exchange of information between platforms, as it is eliminating the time consuming process of multiple integration points in the client's internal applications.

IN A NUTSHELL

  • APIs are codes that are utilised by computer systems to communicate in ‘conversation mode’, asking questions and obtaining answers in real time
  • Aside from improving connectivity, APIs can help companies augment user experiences and acquire insights into customer behaviour
  • APIs have the potential to significantly transform current market practices, and how our industry processes data and provides services
nuttshell

SOME EXAMPLES OF APIs

  • New business and new revenue models are enabled thanks to API platforms and ecosystems. API platforms allow the combining of different services, from different providers through one single point of entry, in an API store, to facilitate engagement with the final user
    example-apis

Mutual benefits

  • The bike sharing platform can reach customers beyond its existing client base
  • Mapping apps can integrate services from third-parties and aggregate data from multiple parties
  • Increase usage of the app
  • Development of commercial agreements

SECURITIES SERVICES INDUSTRY

To date, API adoption has been relatively low in the securities services industry, primarily due to a lack of market API maturity/skill sets, coupled with industry concerns around security and API interoperability when considering API solutions. However, the securities services industry may be nearing a tipping point where APIs are being viewed as pivotal in delivering value in 3 key areas:

  • Improve process efficiency/Reduce risk: drive cost reductions by improving or removing inefficient or manual processes
  • Data on-demand: allowing clients to access the data they need, when they need it
  • Unlock next generation services: bespoke reporting with the ability to enrich the data with additional sources

“By aligning an approach to set standards, and pursuing networked rather than point-to-point solutions, the securities servicing industry stands to unlock significant collective value generated by greater use of APIs.”*

 

* Source: BCG SWIFT securities services white paper 2019.

Clients’ key priorities in relation to API development **

Custody

  • Cash Intraday
  • Pending Failed Trades
  • Settlement Confirmation
  • Position Reporting
  • Cash Balances & Statements

Fund administration

  • Fund/Group/Portfolio Valuations End of Day/Fund Valuation/Accounting Sign Off
  • Fund/Group/Portfolio Transactions
  • Fund/Group/Portfolio Cash Balances & Statements

** Source: Digital Client Sensor 2019.

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

  • The API Programme at BNP Paribas Securities Services has been developed by working hand-in-hand with our clients. This has ensured a strong focus on delivering real solutions to our clients’ key pain points
  • To date we have prioritised our API investigation and delivery in areas such as NAV Calculation and Distribution, Settlement Instruction and Settlement Status, Corporate Actions as well as exploring how APIs can help with regulations such as SRD II and CSDR
  • We have developed 18 distinct Fund accounting APIs that provide clients with NAV data in a flexible manner to facilitate client internal operations. NAV API integration provides clients with self-service solutions, providing them with the freedom to receive their data when and how they want it. Clients can choose which API to call, the download frequency, modify their set up and send instructions (NAV Validation). APIs can provide clients with a cost effective alternative to CFT or FTP transfer
  • We are investigating with our clients to define the relevant application areas for APIs
  • We have commenced an initiative with SWIFT to standardise our API offering to the ISO 20022 standard for the benefit of the investment community
  • We are also concurrently working to leverage our own in-house API Managment System (Google’s Apigee solutions) in order to further industrialise our approach

OUR VISION

APIs are at the core of our digital transformation and data strategy for BNP Paribas Securities Services. We want to leverage APIs and other client facing technologies to drive efficiency. APIs are viewed as key to streamlining our internal processes and enhancing our client’s experience by providing a channel that allows retrieval of the information when it’s wanted, in a format that is user friendly for our clients.

By easing access to data, creation of new tools, reports and information exchange between platforms, clients can make better informed business decisions. To do this BNP Paribas Securities Services has defined a multi-layered enterprise API strategy in collaboration with our clients and partners which ensures we are progressing towards an “API ready” ecosystem that addresses both internal and external considerations.

REGULATION

Unlike the payment world where the PSD2 was instrumental in driving the adoption of APIs there is no such regulation in the securities services industry which has been identified as a reason for slower adoption of API solutions. However, there is a potential opportunity to leverage APIs to address upcoming industry regulation such as SRD II and CSDR which BNP Paribas Securities Services is actively investigating.

GLOSSARY

  • API Application Programming Interface: Enables different systems to interact with each other programmatically. Two types of APIs are REST APIs (web APIs) and native-library APIs. REST API stands for Representational State Transfer. Uses web protocols (HTTP) to make requests and provide responses in a language agnostic way, meaning that users can choose whatever programming language they want to make the calls
  • API Gateway: A service that makes it easy for developers to create, publish, maintain, monitor, and secure APIs at any scale
  • Apigee: provides services for you to manage the whole lifecycle of your API. Specifically, Apigee lets you “manage API complexity and risk in a multi-and hybrid-cloud world by ensuring security, visibility, and performance across the entire API landscape.”
  • Supports the OpenAPI spec
  • Microservices: are an architectural pattern where various loosely coupled services work together to form an application. Each of these services focus on one single purpose only, encapsulating all related logic and data

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