Finterview. Open bank project
This is the 3d interview of my new fintech interview series. This time Simon Redfern, CEO and founder of OPEN BANK PROJECT answers my questions.
1.Please describe your company and product
Led by Berlin based TESOBE, The Open Bank Project is an open source API and App store for banks that empowers financial institutions to securely and rapidly enhance their digital offerings using an ecosystem of 3rd party applications and services.
The Open Bank Project offers a RESTful API to internal and third party developers which enables them to build innovative financial apps and services on behalf of account holders and the bank.
For instance, using our API, software developers could build innovative crowdfunding or payment applications – or connect small business accounting packages to their bank accounts for automatic bank reconciliation. Importantly, account holders never share their bank login credentials with the 3rd party applications – so the bank remains the gatekeeper of authentication and also gains better control of the data flow when compared to screen scraping or direct access solutions.
2. Why did you start your business?
We see huge potential in the financial innovation space. Both from a technology perspective – where APIs will revolutionise how applications and services are conceived and delivered – and from a social perspective where principles of transparency, collaboration, mobile and “social” – not to mention crypto currencies and distributed systems – are generating new paradigms and business models. The Open Bank Project was first conceived and started as a response to corruption and fraud – I thought about a new type of bank where all the bank accounts would be open for everyone to see.. Such a bank would benefit from an API that allows innovation to flourish around it. The Open Bank Project aims to raise the bar of financial transparency and to enable greater innovation, quality, choice and competition in the banking space.
3. What customer problem will you solve? Your main USP?
Banks generally find it difficult and costly to innovate and deliver new applications and services to their customers. With the Open Bank Project connected, banks can much more easily build, test and onboard new applications and services – without repeating painful and expensive integration processes.
At the same time, external software engineers want developer friendly APIs with which to access banking resources. And now, with the Open Bank Project, they can much more easily build applications and deploy them to multiple banks or, “Write once, run at any bank”. This makes the innovation process more efficient and less risky because developers can use our “bank in a sandbox” to showcase services, and if the bank is intrigued it can much more easily test and deploy on its infrastructure.
Thus our solution helps bank of all sizes enhance their online and mobile service offerings and shorten their time-to-market by engaging a community of third party developers eager to build apps for the benefit of the bank’s customers – who want better quality services and more choices about how they connect to their bank. Moreover, this approach drastically reduces the cost of integration and maintenance of these apps.
We achieve this by providing an open standard for common banking APIs and open source software that implements this standard. Our developer-friendly interfaces enable 3rd parties to build next generation banking apps in a secure and controlled environment together with a large community of developers familiar with the API and a growing ecosystem of apps.
4. How is your startup financed? In what funding phase are you?
Open Bank Project is bootstrapped and supported by TESOBE – and we receive income from commercial licenses and support and from related community building events such as hackathons. We are seeking seed funding.
5. Please describe your business model!( You can use a canvas picture)
We provide retail and corporate banks with the technology and community to run an API platform.
Our approach helps the bank cut the cost and development time when deploying new applications to their customers.
We deploy our API directly at the bank and we have a network of partners in different countries that help distribute our solution into financial institutions.
We have two main revenue streams:
a) Annual Commercial Licenses. These provides exemption from the obligations of the AGPL as well as integration services, technical support and community building.
b) Membership: Members can influence our product road map and sponsor hackathons etc.
6. Please tell us some facts about your team? Who are the founders and what are their skills?
Simon Redfern is the CEO of TESOBE and founder of the Open Bank Project. He’s a software engineer and team leader with over 25 years experience in technology. Previously cofounded MusicPictures.com. Ismail Chaib is the COO and manage the relationships with banks, partners and the developer community. He has previously co-founded an award-winning startup in his home country Algeria.
Our advisers have a combined experience of 25 years of experience in banking. Our team has worked together for over two years at TESOBE. The team has a strong technical focus and our founder has personally committed his own capital to the company.
The team encompass 5 different nationalities.
7. Short answer: Disrupting banks or enabling banks?
8. In what are you better than banks?
Enabling innovation. Building an API that is suitable for multiple developers and banks.
9. What are the biggest future challenges for banks and for your company?
Banks’ biggest challenge is to keep up with increasing customer expectations in a rapidly changing socially connected and mobile world – whilst keeping the regulators happy. Our challenge is to persuade banks we can help with that!
10. Are you satisfied with the progress of your startup? Are you on target?
Well, it could always go faster! We’ve learned in the last four years that banks are a bit like oil tankers – they take a long time to adjust course – even when given the order to move. But we believe in our vision and we’re getting increased traction so we’re happy with that.
10. Additional Question: For what more private thing you would leave everything behind?
The safety of my children / World peace.
The open bank project will organize their next Fintech APIO hackathon for re-animating banking next Sunday (world cup finanl day) in Berlin
Here are some impressions of the last Hackathon in Rotterdam