Earlier this month, DBS launched what they claim is the world’s largest API platform by any bank. Some 155 APIs for Singapore are now available to anyone who wants to tap into DBS’ many financial services, from fund transfers, to rewards points and real-time payments. But what are APIs and why should we care about this record-breaking move by DBS?
What is an API?
An API, or application programming interface, is essentially a way for computer software to communicate with each other. Think of it like simple building blocks that programmers can use to easily come up with more complex programmes. For this reason, APIs tend to be known as a B2B service. That is, only something that’s relevant between businesses.
Why are banks offering API platforms of their own?
Banking is an industry that is sorely in need of upgrading. Too often, companies have found it difficult to start an effective partnership with banks. This is because banks often have older, very complex underlying systems that are too inflexible to accommodate new technology.
By creating robust API platforms, banks make it much easier for potential partners to work with them. It also opens up the possibilities for more creative solutions involving both the bank and their partners.
That said, DBS isn’t the first bank in Singapore to have an open API platform. That honour goes to OCBC, which launched their open API platform in the middle of last year, though they only had 4 APIs then. Now, that number has increased to 43.
But OCBC’s 43 APIs is still a relatively small number compared to DBS’ 155. The sheer breadth of APIs that DBS offers means that it’s not exciting just for businesses, but for Singaporeans as well.
Why should we care about DBS’ API platform?
With 155 DBS APIs, the possibilities are limited to the imagination of DBS’ potential partners. Here are 3 ways businesses are already using some DBS APIs:
1. More payment options
DBS has opened up many new possibilities when it comes to payment options. With real-time payment verification, and services like PayLah!, different businesses like Grab and McDonalds can give customers multiple options to make payment using one or more DBS APIs.
Of course, that said, this is nothing new – OCBC’s Pay Anyone service is also being offered as an API. This allows you to send money to anyone even though they don’t have an OCBC account.
2. The possibility of spending DBS Points anywhere
But what is truly revolutionary is the ability for businesses to now accept DBS Points in exchange for their services. Gone are the days when you had to rely solely on a rewards catalogue for reasons to spend your points.
With a newly launched DBS API, social enterprise Homage is one of the businesses that can now offer their home care services in exchange for DBS Points. The Activpass app also uses the same DBS API to allow users to book and purchase their fitness classes with DBS Points
Just think of the possibilities! You may one day pay for your meal with the credit card rewards points you’ve accumulated, or a discount off a spontaneous shopping purchase.
Soon, you’ll even forget how troublesome it is to redeem a voucher online, wait for DBS to mail it to you, and then rush to use the voucher within the stipulated time period.
3. Going beyond payment options
Searching for your next home online through a portal like PropertyGuru? Through another DBS API, you can now get real-time access to an affordability assessment, so that you can search with the confidence that your dream home is not beyond your reach. You can also apply for a DBS home loan directly from PropertyGuru now.
The possibilities of a DBS API go beyond payment options
When you think of an API platform like a bucket of building blocks, it’s really easy to get excited about the potentially endless possibilities that DBS and OCBC are opening up. By giving the power to any technologically inclined business partner to tap into an existing robust banking culture, banks are essentially allowing the ideas run to wild.
For example, in the near future, you may be able to track your expenditure habits easily by just giving a third-party app secure access to your account information in both banks. This could mean access to your savings accounts and your debit and credit card usage.
But much more than just tracking your expenditure, the third-party app could then recommend how you should better use your current credit cards in order to maximise your card benefits. Even better, it could then recommend which credit card to apply for based on your expenditure.
In the meantime, while we wait for the future, why not use the handy cashback, air miles and rewards calculator on MoneySmart’s Credit Card comparison site. Just key in your total monthly expenditure and we’ll tell you which credit card is best for you.