CO-OP recently sat down with Amanda Smith, CO-OP’s Manager of Emerging Products, to discuss the evolution and impact of Application Programming Interfaces (API) in the mobile banking landscape.
Other industries are already realizing the benefits of expanding customer value through seamless integration. For example, Uber has an API that allows you to arrange for a ride by pressing a button within the Open Table app. And Walgreen’s has enlisted the help of an API from the fitness company Qardio to build loyalty by rewarding customers to track their health metrics.
Now it’s time for credit unions to seize the opportunity to capitalize on the ease and convenience APIs offer. The following interview provides an overview of APIs and how CO-OP is developing solutions to suit a variety of needs.
Q: How have mobile trends evolved over the past two to three years?
A: The first place I go is to mobile banking. It was largely a transactional platform. I see that evolving and becoming a holistic engagement platform. Expanding to more product features and wallet programs. Omni-channel is cliché, but it’s meaningful. If you think about the last 15 years, online banking was the way credit unions interacted. Now they have to take that experience and cross multiple platforms and all digital channels. That will require a lot of integration and more engagement.
Q: What is an API?
A: API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s a set of protocols, specifications and others tools that are used for developing software applications.
Q: How is an API different from an app, in terms of function and integration? Why would someone choose one over the other?
A: An app is the end-result product. APIs run in the background and are the structure of the application. At CO-OP, we looked at our strategy, predominantly in the mobile space, as to how we offer products. If we look at the technology rails themselves, in addition to how we offer an application, it enables us to extend our reach. Some credit unions can take on new features now, and some are fast followers—so we need a variety of ways to meet their needs. The apps are turnkey or configurable solutions, but the credit unions don’t need to worry about development. They can adopt the app as a standalone product. Whereas the API allows credit unions that have the ability to do the development to have more flexibility and control over the user experience, brand experience and final result in app form.
Q: Why does CO-OP see such an importance in APIs?
A: We wanted to meet the varied needs of customers. Also, we are aware that credit unions don’t want customers to need 16 apps. Leveraging APIs makes it more modular.
Q: Why did CO-OP choose this particular suite?
A: Through our experience and research, we identified APIs that would appeal to a larger set of credit unions. RealPay, CardNav—the products we chose cover the essential services. They can pick the ones they want and put them together in a customized solution.
Q: What is the future of APIs for CO-OP and the industry in general?
A: Having services that are more modular enables you to integrate into other systems and products. This creates an opportunity for more holistic engagement and convergence of channels. Credit unions are able to plug and play features into multiple areas. In terms of the future, this will be more of a consistent way for us to offer up new products, making them more modular and more flexible.
Q: Can these APIs integrate into any mobile banking product or just CO-OP Mobile products?
A: Any mobile product. That’s the beauty of it and why it is beneficial. Credit unions can choose the best-of-breed services to tailor the mobile experience the way they want it.
Q: Is the API suite a good fit for everyone?
A: For the most part, yes. However, some credit unions may not have the budget or technology bandwidth to make the most of APIs. That’s why we also offer more turnkey apps, such as Sprig, and configurable applications, like CO-OP Mobile.
Q: Is there a benefit to getting the whole suite vs. just one?
A: Utilizing an entire suite from a single provider enables consistency in data and structure. Integrating additional apps is easier because you have an established path. You have the baseline started when you begin with the first one. Then, you also get consistency in terms of the end-user experience, as well. Ultimately, it translates into more commonality across the services.
Visit the Mobile Trends Resource Center for more information on trends in the mobile space and look out for more information to come on CO-OP’s API Suite.