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Open Banking: Pain Free Travel

I commute and stay in London each week and find the logistics of booking travel and accommodation painful.

I have varying requirements for travel times, accommodation preferences and a strong desire for good quality at affordable prices.


How can I ease my pain?

I could wait until someone writes the killer app that solves my problem. However, with such a complicated set of requirements one app may not cut it.

As a developer I could write my own bespoke app, but that seems overkill.

Alternatively I could use a ‘mashup’ of workflow tools, apps and APIs to come to the rescue.


API Mashups

Most people would never have heard of IFTTT or Apple Workflow. Both are user friendly workflow tools that allow anyone to create and share workflows that “get jobs done” using applications and APIs.

For my commuting challenge, I could schedule the dates and times I need to travel over the next month in the Calendar on my iPhone, launch a workflow and the magic happens.

The workflow would:

1) Check my monthly travel budget in a Personal Financial Management(PFM) app and check my bank account to ensure funds are available.

2) Find hotel choices that meet my preferences and check train times and costs.

3) Choose my preferred options and bookings and payments are automatically made.

4) Update my PFM tool and transfer any underspend against my budget into my Caribbean Holiday fund.


Tools and APIs

All of the above could be possible using the following API enabled apps and services plus many more I could have added:

Calendar - Native iOS App

Workflow - Native iOS App

IFTTT - Workflow App/Service

Xero - Personal Financial Management service

TransportAPI - API to allow me to plan my travel

Trainline - Train ticket booking service (APIs currently only available to affiliates)

Airbnb, Expedia - Accommodation aggregation services

Starling Bank - UK API enabled bank account

Qapital - Saving Goals Manager (not yet available in UK)

Building the described workflow today would be a challenge due to API limitations, handling error conditions, integration and security management. However, with apps, services and APIs continually improving this should become much easier over time.


Invisible Banking

Underpinning the ‘commuters pain’ scenario are a number of ‘invisible’ but crucial Open Banking interactions.

Open Banking APIs enabled the account enquiries, budget planning, goal setting, payments and savings described. The APIs formed part of a customer built ecosystem of services designed to solve their unique challenge.

I strongly believe that banks offerings and services will be increasingly delivered through partner and customer built ecosystems like the one described and less through traditional channels.

In this type of ecosystem the bank is both “invisible” and crucial. This is enabled by providing the Open Banking APIs customers and partners require.

Check out a recent article I wrote DBS: The Rise of The Invisible Bank - that gives an example of a bank that is leading the way in ensuring it plays an active role in customer and partner ecosystems.


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