APIX is all about partnerships and collaborations. APIX exists because there is a clear-cut problem. The problem is that collaboration between financial institutions and FinTechs is extremely painful and ineffective.
These are some of the steps in the legacy processes if a FinTech and a financial institution (FI) want to come together. It takes a lot of time to verify, carry out legal work, infrastructure creation, internal data management with information security, API exposures, testing, and go live. All this, on average, takes anywhere between eight to twelve months before testing can take place and is for a particular reason. The reason is that FI is rightfully concerned about the capacity of the FinTech, scalability, reliability, tech risk management, and compliance. It is not possible for every FinTech to be able to sustain per customer a wait time of eight to twelve months. Most of the prospects for a FinTech don’t even get to this point. They probably lose track after the verification or legal or somewhere in the middle of the road.
That is why APIX got together a bunch of renowned names and industry leaders to create what we call APIX, which is essentially a platform. At the heart of the platform is the sandbox, and we have built an ecosystem of services around this sandbox to help you do the following five “D”s as we call it.
It starts from the designing and testing, which is essentially helping define the opportunity of the problem or the problem statement. We see a lot of financial institutions, especially in the mid to small tier, who don’t understand how to define the opportunity or the problem statement they have on their end. APIX has acquired a certain amount of conversation maturity to help handhold these meetings to help institutions define what they are looking for. Then comes discovery, followed by the dry run, perhaps one of the most important reasons institutions are associated with APIX. We help financial institutions discover FinTechs from across the globe, sitting right there in their office or while working from home, at the click of a button. APIX today proudly hosts a little short of 1200 FinTechs, and the number keeps growing daily and about 86 financial institutions. The FinTech community is so expansive on APIX that we cover 84 countries from which these FinTechs originate. These FinTechs run across 50 Plus categories. Anything under the sun that you’re looking for your FinTech to participate in, you will find it on APIX. If you don’t find it on APIX, let us know, and we’ll find it for you. That’s a commitment.
What we also allow the institutions to do is to be able to test and try APIs for these FinTechs using the API pass-through gateway that is on the APIX platform. So you have the profiles of Fintech, and this profile also comes in with the APIs. For example, On APIX, you will be able to identify more than 40 KYC service providers, more than 30 alternate credit mechanisms, more than 25 risk management FinTechs, and so forth.
Then comes the part, which is the driver. Now you have identified some of these possible prospect FinTech collaborations. The next logical step is that you should be able to see what’s under the hood. In the real world, the process of discovery and getting to the point where you can see under the hood and see and try those APIs is at least four to six months. In between, there’s a trigger of documentation, information security clearance, legal work, etc. At APIX, you come with your product to the platform; you discover what you want to see and immediately test the APIs. All this takes 5 minutes.
Now, what happens on the dry-run front? APIX has created a selection of multiple sandboxes. Today, we have four different sandboxes: retail bank focus sandbox; AI ML focused sandbox; Central bank digital currencies focused sandbox and Equinix dedicated sandbox. Equinix is one of the world’s largest providers of entrant data centers for financial institutions. Suppose an institution is uncomfortable hosting its experiments on a public cloud or trying to experiment on a public cloud. In that case, they can use the Equinix sandbox, which will give them the experience of running this out of an on-prem equivalent data center.
Then comes a part of the decision. “Decision” is essentially helping you identify partners who are validated by an ecosystem, like Fintech and financial institutions. We have launched a product called chekFIN to check the basic credibility issue. We already have multiple global financial institutions, like ING, UOB, Bank of New York, Prudential, and a few more, partnered with us to help propagate the chekFIN program. The fifth and final step in the APIX implementation framework is deployment. The experiment is only good when it is ready to be deployed.
chekFIN is a global FinTech registry built on web 3.0 principles. We have worked with a Temasek-founded company called Affinidi which specializes in virtual credentials over blockchain, and Boston Consulting groups FinTech control tower. chekFIN is designed to address a very basic problem in the system – the time-consuming processes faced by FinTechs and financial institutions seeking to collaborate purely from the point of trust and credibility.
FinTech needs to be on chekFIN because –
It helps you increase exposure to financial institutions. The FI requires detailed information to search, discover and evaluate FinTech. They don’t just randomly hear the name somewhere and start working with you. FinTechs, in turn, can save resources by easily creating a corporate profile on chekFIN, which covers all key data points. Close to about 50 plus data points are being covered on the checking profile for a FinTech. This will help you move faster and get noticed by prospective customers. What it also does is that it helps you demonstrate your compliance readiness. Now, in every regulated geography, you will find some compliance regime that the regulator gives to the financial institutions before they can engage with a prospective partner.
These are called tech risk management guidelines or tech risk compliance guidelines. For example, in Singapore, MES has a regiment called the “Tech Risk Management Guidelines,” which has a list of nearly 400 guidelines that the financial institution has to ensure are complied with by their prospective partner or tech company. We realize that proving this compliance is extremely difficult for a FinTech. Many new FinTechs are unaware because they have never entered a commercial arrangement. We have truncated this into a compliance readiness framework and built it into the APIX profile on chekFIN for FinTech in a readily available format. Any FinTech can update their risk assessment checklist on their APIX profile. Whenever a financial institution looks up a profile on the APIX platform, it can request the FinTech to share its risk assessment. They get much more comfortable with the FinTech, which shares this data, versus the other guy who does not have that, which is extremely critical. Any bank in Singapore or any other geography will need some comfort level on the TRM front before starting a major engagement with any FinTech. Perhaps, you can do a POC, but beyond that, you will have to comply.
Then comes a part of building the credibility and trust with their FI partner. It’s extremely hard for FinTechs to demonstrate trust and credibility. The reason is that FinTech is a new person on the block; they’re not too big. So, we have created a process where FinTechs can share trusted and content-driven credentials. You have to come to your APIX profile and request a credential. You can generate four types of credentials, a Business Reference, a Grant Reference, a Hackathon Winner Reference, or an Award Reference. These credentials can be shared with any partner you have worked with, irrespective of whether they have been on APIX. A FinTech can send a credential request via email to a partner to seek a credential through the platform. It is a factual statement by a partner which states that the partner worked with FinTech. It is not a qualitative assessment of the work. This creates a wallet for you for your organization on the blockchain. APIX hosts that token, that verifiable credential on the FinTech’s profile on the APIX platform. As per Web 3.0 basics, the information belongs to the FinTech; it cannot be shared with anybody unless the FinTech agrees to share it. So, the FinTech has to initiate that transaction. So a new partner will have to request a credential from the FinTech, which will then need to be approved for sharing by the FinTech.
Benefits of chekFIN
- Reduce time and effort in identifying FinTechs- APIX has a global database of 25,000 plus FinTechs. One thousand two hundred are already on APIX, and a few more are coming in.
- Assess a FinTech’s compliance readiness.
- Evaluate FinTech capabilities in a trusted manner.
Key features of a “verifiable credential.”
- Provable authenticity – tamper-proof evidence of credentials with cryptographically verifiable authorship
- Portability and interoperability –
- It’s portable. It is irrespective of whether the FinTech is on APIX or not. If a FinTech chooses to leave APIX tomorrow, it can still carry your credential via a private key.
- Privacy-preserving – It’s private to the FinTech. Only the FinTech can share it. Nobody else can access it.
- Security – It is encrypted. There are no passwords required. It’s completely tamper-proof.
A Pre-fabricated solution is where you have all the different FinTechs on APIX; Origination FinTech, KYC FinTech, Application FinTech, Underwriting FinTech, processing, bookkeeping payments, repayments, and collection. Digital lending as a pre-fabricated solution would compose of these FinTechs stitched together for a solution to a financial institution.
Along with APIX, we are building a proof of concept on the APIX platform. We have a group of FinTechs from various countries worldwide and are creating a digital bank solution using these APIs on the APIX platform. We will have a full suite of products on this digital bank. This will be available as a pre-fabricated solution for any bank that wants to use and go digital with the FinTechs and APIs we have put together. Once we have done this, which is our build phase, we will market the solution across the Asia Pacific and other parts of the world. And then, we will run this as a “banking as a service” for various countries based on our partners worldwide.