Treasury APIs: Banking on a New Connectivity Ecosystem
By Eleanor Hill, Editor
Claiming the ‘Best Bank Connectivity’ accolade in TMI’s 2019 Awards for Innovation and Excellence, John Laurens, Group Head of Global Transaction Services at DBS, discusses the forces reshaping corporate to bank connectivity. He also explains how to achieve best-fit bank connectivity and outlines the role of open application programming interfaces (APIs) in treasury innovation, integration and business transformation.
Eleanor Hill (EH): Congratulations on your Award win – the third in as many years. This time, DBS RAPID was the winning solution. How can treasurers benefit from this?
John Laurens (JL): Companies are intensifying their focus on digital - from specific initiatives to new business models and platforms to create competitive advantage and realise their commercial ambitions. This also involves driving greater use of the cloud, be it for the creation of new commercial business propositions or the migration from legacy systems to cloud-based treasury and finance systems. As a consequence, connectivity of treasury, finance and commercial business platforms, with banking solutions via APIs, has become the standard today. As has been recognised by TMI, DBS RAPID (Real-time APIs with DBS), has led the world in corporate-bank connectivity.
Embracing digital is also changing the shape and nature of the interaction with banks. Traditional RFPs and Sales engagements are looking increasingly passé, as they are being rapidly replaced by co-creation partnerships, the application of human-centred design thinking in solutions development, using agile and customer-journey centred practices. All of which are essential ingredients that enable companies to deliver a differentiated experience to their customers and suppliers with speed.
EH: OK, before we delve into the solution itself, for those of us who aren’t API-savvy, could you give us a short recap as to what they are?
JL: APIs or Application Programming Interfaces have been around for some time, however, as mentioned, with increasing use of cloud-based tech stacks, corporates are creating unparalleled transformational change enabled increasingly by the innovative use of APIs. The machine-to-machine connectivity at the core of API use, brings continuous and instantaneous interactions across a broad spectrum of transactional and information management process flows and systems. This increasingly includes connectivity with banks and other financial service providers. It’s the very nature of this connectivity that is enabling companies to create transformational change, be it at the heart of their commercial platforms or in supporting treasury and financial systems.
With DBS RAPID, our customers can seamlessly integrate DBS’ banking services into their platforms, eliminating or avoiding ‘old tech’ costs that have no place in today’s digital business models. For example, Gojek, a leading Southeast Asian ride-hailing platform, wanted to help their drivers who were used to dealing with physical cash, become comfortable with accepting cashless real-time pay-outs of their earnings. Gojek implemented the DBS RAPID solution, thus ensuring that drivers are paid electronically via a mobile app immediately, as and when they choose to cash-out. This is a frictionless experience that empowers drivers and thereby brings enhanced employee and customer experience.
DBS has worked with numerous companies to create and deliver solutions that enhance customer and employee experience across a broad range of industries. These solutions require the seamless dovetailing of treasury and accounting systems with commercial platforms and applications, invariably by using APIs. This is having a profound impact on the role of the treasurer and its continued evolution. In addition to the treasurer’s established responsibilities, today’s treasurer is increasingly engaging or being engaged by his or her commercial and technology counterparts around the application of cloud-based technology and API connectivity to create new business opportunities and competitive advantage.
Another example of this is Lykos - India’s first online refined metal sales platform. Lykos was seeking a partner bank to implement a robust, progressive digital solution to create this platform and be able to scale it for future growth. The solution provided real-time updates of incoming flows into buyers’ trading accounts, together with the ability to initiate refunds or debit pre-funded e-wallets instantly. The DBS RAPID solution enabled Lykos to create and scale the operational processes and customer trading platform and thereby establish this new line of business.
EH: Tell us more about DBS RAPID and the functionalities on offer.
JL: With DBS RAPID, we have published an extensive and growing array of APIs, examples of which are summarised in Fig 1.
Fig 1: Types of API available via DBS RAPID
Having readily available transactional, information reporting and workflow management APIs not only simplifies integration of transaction banking solutions with our customers operating systems, but also enables us and our customers to move quickly to realise new business opportunities.