Banks of the future will look very different


APIs crucial to enabling banks to fulfil client needs

The transformation of the banking industry is under way and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are going to form a principle pillar behind the change, according to Sohail Raja, Head of Execution Platforms, SG Markets and Digital Office UK.

“As part of our SG Markets product offering we receive thousands of API requests daily, which gives you an idea of how crucial APIs will be to us as a business, going forward,” he told the audience while presenting the digital transformation programme at Societe Generale last week. 

An API is essentially a way of enabling two pieces of software to exchange messages or data. Uber’s relationship with Google Maps is a good example, Sohail explained. Rather than building their own mapping functionality, Uber integrated Google Maps into its own software, allowing it to focus on other things like usability and customer service.

Asia is showing signs of a growing trend of banks beginning to change their operating model. “The Banks there are focused on what global markets will ‘look like’ in the future and have started to reinvent themselves not as a traditional bank per se, but operating more as ‘utilities’ – providing services to the marketplace,” said Sohail.

SG Markets is Societe Generale’s electronic suite of market, financing and cash management services. It gives clients direct access to pre-trade, execution, post-trade and financing services. We know the value of our data; and continue to find ways to improve upon the clients’ experience. We are starting to see the benefits of this investment as the active growth rate in external client users has almost doubled in the last four years. These are people actively using the platform.”

When it comes to commoditising this data and making it available to internal or external clients, Sohail said, “Our aim is that from any entry point, whatever the client needs, we want to be able to make these services available to them.”

Launched in 2017 The FX Event Tracker is a case in point. “A request came in. The client wanted to get an idea of the future pricing on an FX option based on key economic/political events and asked if we could build them a tool”.

The Analytics team sprang into action, putting together a small group to focus solely on the project. It was a success. From client request to delivering the finished product the project took one month, said Sohail. “It was a great achievement. We now have hundreds of clients using that tool and many of them using the API.”