API First, API Only

October 26, 2018 by David Biesack

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“API first” is our company mindset, and this blog post will help you get to know Apiture and the solutions this mindset enables through our Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Today, people want more from their banks. Banks want more from their providers. App developers want more from their mashups. Apiture is in the business of providing open API solutions for banking. As a company, we exist to deliver new capabilities to all of these audiences. Apiture President Chris Cox says it best when he says,

Our mission is to help each of our clients accelerate their financial institution of the future by enabling them to think big, move fast and lead strong. Our API-first approach allows us to accomplish this mission.

Our APIs function on a much deeper level than simply existing as a bunch of specifications to “call this” or “get that.” Our APIs are backed by scalable, cloud-ready services that provide financial institutions with essential banking functions like account opening, fund transfers and access to balances, statements and account history, all while offering a modern user experience for web and native mobile clients and enabling innovation around those traditional banking resources. At Apiture, we have a great team and we’re proud of how our culture has enabled us help today’s financial institutions grow and evolve. We want to share our passion for what we do and how we’re able to excel in moving the banking industry forward.

It’s important to note that operating API first means that we know APIs are a key enabler and that they accelerate innovation. Apiture’s foundation as an organization dates back 20 years, beginning with the banking services provided formerly by FundsXpress and later by First Data. A large chunk of our technology DNA–including an award-winning user experience–comes from our other founder, Live Oak Bank.

We know how to successfully implement digital banking, and we’ve helped over 500 banks around the country do so to date. Rather than slapping an API layer around existing systems and technology, we’ve chosen to move forward with an API-first approach. We’ve analyzed what clients need from banking systems and have taken the time to understand their pain points, and we’re building APIs to deliver on the capabilities they need most. API first means creating APIs that focus on what developers want, as well. We’re building our new services to be cloud-ready from the ground up. We’re creating easy-to-use, cohesive APIs with a high degree of conceptual integrity, because that’s what matters to us and to our customers. Each API we build and deliver hones in on one function and performs that specific function well. Our ultimate goal is to develop loosely coupled, but cooperating APIs and schemas that can be recombined in many flexible ways to enable app developers to create new banking experiences for their users.

Focusing on APIs first also means that we focus on the business value that our customers and app developers want and need from those APIs. Our approach is based on the following beliefs:

APIs are the first link in the innovation chain
We enable innovation in banking, from providing disruptive bill pay services to directly embedding banking in practice management applications. APIs–the common language of developers–enable rapid delivery of new capabilities by attracting millions of software developers and vendors to the Apiture platform.

APIs are a technology multiplier
Apiture’s APIs make the majority of tasks easy. They also make complex things possible. Partners developing to the secure Apiture platform will gain access to hundreds of banks, rather than doing custom application development for each bank or each core. With the Apiture platform, possibilities that were previously beyond reach are now within developers’ grasps–all thanks to APIs.

Not all APIs are created equal
Apiture’s elegant, modern APIs are designed with the developer experience in mind. They incorporate comprehensive features, documentation and examples that ensure our APIs are a joy to work with. In addition, our APIs are designed to evolve with the customer, so we can help you address the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow, as well as those of today.

Apiture embraces open APIs
APIs are the architecture of the web. Apiture’s use of industry standards–such as the OpenAPI Specification and other standards–accelerates adoption and rapid business value delivery.

Innovation in banking is a key goal, but it’s not our only goal. We also want to free banks from legacy systems that inhibit their agility and ability to compete in today’s fast-moving, digital economy. Oftentimes these systems are costly, hard to change and difficult to work with. We’re here to help with that. API access to all the bank’s data provides that freedom financial institutions crave, while also being the first link in the innovation change.

REST (Representational State Transfer) APIs can be a bit intimidating, and while REST is a well-known architectural style, there are no standards that all REST APIs must follow. Apiture employs a pragmatic approach to REST APIs which demystifies REST, but also allows for different client usage patterns. For example, key to our approach is allowing self-discovery and self-description in our APIs and request and response bodies. We will reveal the common design patterns used in our APIs. Humans are great at recognizing patterns and using them to accelerate learning, and this is equally true for REST API patterns.

Standards are important, and we also look forward to discussing where and how we employ existing and relevant standards in our APIs to benefit developers creating new experiences using our APIs. Software, network and data security are vitally important. The same is true for the compliance side of standards. The concept of API first can and does coexist with “security first.” In the future, we look forward to sharing our very own API Style Guide (as many others have done), and much more.

Thank you for tuning in. We have a lot to share with you, and we hope you will return in the future to continue the conversation. We have lots of exciting things going on at Apiture, and we’re anxious to share them with you. We’ll be sharing details about all the points mentioned above and much, much more in the coming weeks and months. We’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you want from banking APIs, what can be done to make our developer experience even more killer or where you think banking innovation is going. Welcome to Apiture!

David Biesack is VP, API Platforms at Apiture. He is responsible for the architecture and design of Apiture’s awesome APIs and our distinguished developer experience.