Modernizing the Future of Finance: A Kong-versation With Finastra
Finastra has ambitious goals - to open up the world of finance. As Joey White, SVP of technology for Finastra, says, "The future of finance is open. All of the currently closed systems within banking will need to open to serve a digital future."
To him, open means understanding what you don't know, specifically, the particular modality of use and that change is the only constant. Banks and other financial institutions have long relied on closed systems because they needed to prioritize proprietary IP over everything. Banks have kept fax machine manufacturers in business because of the reliance on closed systems.
The reality of digital transformation, though, has come to every industry (accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic), and banks are not immune to this dynamic shift. As one of the most relied-upon and regulated industries in our world, banking knew it needed to continue serving and prioritizing customers, but the how of doing that has changed. Whether they are directly serving consumers or are providing services through a third party, the need for banks to evolve and adapt while maintaining consumer trust has only grown in recent years.
With solutions and services that span across Payments, Lending, Treasury and Capital Markets, and Digital and Retail Banking, Finastra knew that it needed to make it easy for banks to work with fintech companies and other ecosystem partners. It also needed to serve a newly emerging use case - the ability for banks to market themselves to third-party applications.
To power this bi-directional process, Finastra needed APIs and discoverability, which both require back-end systems (traditionally closed) to be opened. For Finastra, this journey has meant a mindset shift from a traditional service model to a delivery-focused mindset, where its developers own operations and work to automate everything to provide the best experience possible to customers on a daily basis. Its customers, which includes everyone who interacts with its solutions, range from bank tellers, to executives, to account holders and developers within other organizations - and its goal is for all of its customers to have a delightful experience.
Using its end user experience as a success metric has paid off well for Finastra, as it recently won awards from DevPortal Awards for Best Findability of Products in a Devportal and Best Overall Enterprise Developer Portal. Considering the complexity of the APIs they work with, this is an incredible feat and a testament to the work of Joey and his team.
This world of open banking relies heavily on APIs and connectivity, which play a crucial role in the digital transformation of this industry. Finastra holds an annual think tank with its most experienced engineers and connectivity has consistently been their focus.
As Joey says, "Connecting a bank to a bank is a really big problem, because it takes multiple projects, innovation work and time to build trusted relationships that allow the large deals that are required to keep banks running. Add in the constant need for auditing and opening/closing connections, and you find that keeping connectivity is the number one challenge we face."
By using Kong's API gateway and service mesh together, they are able to enhance and control security, encryption and trust between these critical connections.
Looking to the future, Finastra sees DevOps, including cloud native services and a modernized tech stack as the next area of focus. In the financial services industry, DevOps is the key to the automation and cost optimization that allow the kind of results it is looking to drive.
By using cloud native services and automation, it is able to push out hundreds of releases daily, meaning that customers receive both features and fixes rapidly, dramatically changing the customer experience. It is also looking to further enable Banking as a service, through the power of ever more complex APIs and modernized bank-end systems. This will require an even greater focus on what APIs can deliver, beyond request-response, but using data to augment financial institutions' services with their capabilities.
"We've become an engineering-led company. It's about testing, constant releases and a wholehearted embrace of technology," says Joey. With Kong powering their connectivity, Finastra's future looks bright, and its ambitions within reach.