APIs help those banking with Citi evolve their business models. Source: Shutterstock

APIs help those banking with Citi evolve their business models. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s how APIs delight institutional clients banking at Citi

IN THE DIGITAL age, bankers have started opening up their infrastructure to support customers looking for direct and seamless integration to support internal and external applications. APIs make this possible.

API — or application programming interface — helps organizations (banks) provide pre-authorized customers and partners with access to information they hold.

Think of APIs as special types of sockets on a wall at a bank through which customers, those with the right kind of plugs, can connect to and access some kind of information.

In recent times, with open banking gaining traction, API — the enabling technology for most open banking programs — has become even more popular.

Recently, Citi announced that CitiConnect, its API banking platform for institutional clients, has reached a new milestone. Since its launch, Citi has moved more than US$26 billion for clients using a set of over 50 unique APIs.

The bank said that the pace of CitiConnect API adoption is accelerating, with 18 million calls in November 2018, growing to over 157 million calls by August 2019, representing a growth rate of 750 percent.

Of the total API calls, the majority were from companies located in the Asia Pacific and European regions, reflecting the rapid growth of instant payments schemes in these areas.

While the company’s press release cited clients such as Flatio and Moni Online, whose services and business were made possible by CitiConnect APIs, Tech Wire Asia interviewed Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions Asia Pacific Head of Digital Channels and Data Sanjeev Jain to simplify the benefits of APIs to those banking with Citi.

“Citi’s set of over 50 unique APIs enable clients to seamlessly access and connect to a growing number of solutions, directly through their treasury workstations or enterprise resource platforms (ERPs) as well as other systems or platforms used by clients for their day-to-day business.”

“Interconnectivity and access to real-time information are fundamental to efficiency and decision-making and APIs enable this connectivity.”

According to Jain, having real-time access to the status of a payment or balance in an account helps increase visibility and transparency into critical business processes, making treasury and commercial functions more agile.

Further, information received via APIs also help optimize working capital, increase sales growth and improve the overall customer experience that institutional clients provide to their customers.

The CitiConnect solution offers APIs for both data-driven services and transactions. Examples of data-driven services include self-service reports, real-time FX information and account services including statements and proof of payments. Transactions include payments, request-to-pay, and WorldLink transfers.

“Through these APIs, we are able to provide enhanced connectivity and more integrated solutions to our clients.”

In the past couple of years, APIs have been instrumental to those banking with Citi, allowing the bank to bring the full value of instant payments and real-time banking to its institutional clients across the globe and helping them evolve to new business models (example direct-to-consumer) and enter new markets or businesses.

According to Jain, traditional clients seem to be increasingly evolving their business models to be more digital and directly customer-facing while digital natives continue to expand the breadth and depth of their services and the geographies they serve.

“More instant banking services are becoming available in multiple markets across the world, and particularly in Asia, and API technology is a strong enabler of business and consumer innovation.”

Jain sees APIs as the connective tissue of the real-time ecosystem and critical catalysts in enabling new and emerging business models.

“We expect future use cases to emerge as newer business models and strategies emerge.

“We also expect to continue to see the growth of ecosystems in the digital as well as the traditional economy, which would mean we would be able to provide services to our clients and their ecosystems including partners, merchants, and other relevant stakeholders.”

Of course, APIs are key to making this possible which is why, as those banking with Citi move towards reaching their end customers directly, Jain believes the bank’s services will support those — moving beyond servicing B2B flows to also support consumer to business flows.

“APIs are a key enabler for our clients to improve and enhance their interactions with their end-consumers,” said Jain, expecting more transactions to take place in the future, beating their own milestone and helping more customers evolve and transform their business models.