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Hong Kong’s banking sector gets Smart

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced the publication of the Open Application Programming Interface (API) Framework (Framework) for the Hong Kong banking sector. Simultaneously, the HKMA announced that the launch of Open API on its official website will be on 23 July 2018 and will provide convenient access by the public.

The formulation of the Open API Framework is one of the seven initiatives announced by the HKMA in September 2017. The Framework seeks to help usher Hong Kong into a new era of Smart Banking.

Open API helps to ensure the competitiveness of the banking sector, encourage more parties to provide innovative and integrated services that improve customer experience and keep up with the innovation taking place across the globe in term of the delivery of banking services.

During the consultation, the HKMA received 41 responses from banks, technology/fintech firms, industry associations, consulting firms, payment card scheme operators, individuals, and other interested organisations. All the respondents were supportive of the HKMA’s policy direction in developing an Open API Framework. Some respondents sought clarification or requested more details on the Framework particularly regarding the engagement with Third Party Service Providers (TSPs). HKMA’s compiled the responses and then, taking into consideration the comments received, published a revised Framework.

The Framework takes a risk-based principle and a four-phase approach to implement various Open API functions and recommends prevailing international technical standards to ensure fast adoption and security. It also lays out detailed expectations on how banks should adopt and maintain relationships with TSPs in a manner that concentrates on consumer protection.

The HKMA believes that the Framework will serve as an important guide for the banking industry in Hong Kong to adopt APIs effectively and strike a good balance between innovation and risk-taking.

With the release of the Framework, the HKMA expects banks to deploy Phase I Open APIs within 6 months and Phase II Open APIs within 12 to 15 months. Upon receiving the deployment roadmaps from banks, the HKMA plans to publish a summary of the roadmaps of the Open API functions from the banks for reference by the market.

The HKMA will work closely with the industry over the next 12 months on the deployment timeline for Phase III and IV Open APIs, taking into account implementation progress of Phase I and II, and international development, publishing a timetable in due course.

The HKMA will closely monitor the Open API adoption progress and will work with the industry and market participants to develop a healthy banking Open API ecosystem.

While promoting the wide adoption of Open API by the banking industry in Hong Kong, the HKMA will set an example by launching Open API on its official website on 23 July 2018. Around 130 sets of information covering all financial data and important information published on the HKMA’s website will be made available for Open API in phases.

The day of the launch will see 50 sets of financial data and important information opened via API. These will cover the information most frequently accessed by the public, like statistics on the HK dollar exchange rates, interest rates, the banking sector and the Exchange Fund, and press releases and Coin Cart schedule. The remaining 80 sets of information will be opened via API in phases and to completion by mid-2019.

With the launch of HKMA’s Open API, stakeholders and members of the public can retrieve information and data from the HKMA’s website in a more convenient and efficient way for research purposes or when developing new applications.

According to Mr Norman Chan, Chief Executive of the HKMA, the hope is that the Framework will provide specific guidance to enable collaboration between banks and TSPs, and ultimately, bring innovative, convenient and safe banking services to customers. He added that the HKMA will make a range of financial data and important information available on its Open API format. This will facilitate the flexible retrieval and application of such information by stakeholders and the general public.

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