Hong Kong Gets First API Exchange Platform in Open Banking Push

JETCO launches the city’s first Open API exchange; New Accenture survey indicates willingness of Hong Kong consumers to share personal financial information with third parties.

JETCO (Joint Electronic Teller Services Limited) has announced the launch of Hong Kong’s first Open API exchange platform, providing access to over 200 APIs from 13 banks.

The move follows the publishing of an Open API framework for the banking sector by the HKMA (Hong Kong Monetary Authority) in July 2018, part of the regulator’s attempts to introduce ‘Smart Banking’ in the city. This week, the first banks in Hong Kong began offering product data on savings and current accounts, mortgages, FX rates and branch information through the Open API, with more expected to come online later this month.

JETCO’s APIX platform connects banks to third-party service providers and application developers under a single platform, establishing new connectivity that allows them to collaborate and co-develop new products and services in a safe and standardised environment. It also provides a sandbox for users to test their products leading, allowing for shorter time-to-market and reduced development costs.

“Open banking is a global trend that will help drive innovations and enhance the competitiveness of the local financial industry,” said JETCO chief Angus Choi. Open Banking allows consumers to grant technology providers, fintechs, telecommunications companies, retailers and other third parties access to their financial data via Open APIs, enabling them to compare products and services and initiate transactions more easily.

“APIX enables banks to connect with third-party service providers and exchange product and service information easily via API integrations, which will significantly reduce the time required for them to build up business relationships,” said Choi. “This will greatly facilitate the growth of Hong Kong’s API economy.”

The APIs cover product and service information for deposit, FX, loans, investment, insurance and other general banking services from 13 banks: Bank of East Asia, Bank of Communications, Citibank, China Construction Bank, Chong Hing Bank, China CITIC Bank, CMB Wing Lung Bank, Dah Sing Bank, Fubon Bank, ICBC, OCBC Wing Hang Bank, Public Bank and Shanghai Commercial Bank.

Going forward, JETCO looks to expand its cooperation with third-party service providers to help them connect to banks’ platforms, in a bid to improve the customer experience and enable a one-stop service.

Separately, consulting firm Accenture has published the results of a new survey, indicating that more than half (51%) of Hong Kong consumers are willing to share their financial data with third parties other than their banks to receive more personalised financial services, higher returns on savings and deposits, and better mortgage rates.

“Banks still enjoy a lot of trust from consumers, but Hong Kongers are willing to share their financial data if they know they’ll get something in return — indicating that the foundations are clearly there for Hong Kong to leapfrog many markets with Open Banking solutions,” said Accenture managing director Fergus Gordon.

Only 31 percent of consumers in Hong Kong said they would not be willing to share their personal financial information with third parties, compared to 66 percent in Australia and 69 percent in the UK indicated, according to Accenture’s earlier research.

“To strengthen their engagement with customers and benefit from consumers’ willingness to share their data with non-bank providers, banks must look for opportunities to partner with third parties to offer the types of services their customers want,” said Gordon.

When asked to identify the main hurdles to embracing Open Banking, Hong Kong consumers cited concerns over security and privacy of their financial data (71%), a lack of trust in large tech companies and third-party providers to handle financial data (43%) and a lack of sufficient understanding of Open Banking (42%).

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