No sidelines, but leading the way
Open banking is the collective term for the transition from a closed to an open financial system. So called APIs (application programming interfaces) play an important role in this transition. These digital gateways allow external programs to access the data and services of financial parties. Open banking is a European ambition, established in the PSD2 legislation. Nico Strauss: “Europe wants more transparency, competition and innovation in financial services, as this offers consumers more options. Many banks remain on the side-lines within this process, and some of the fintechs only look for solutions in the traditional payment systems. At Rabobank we see PSD2 as an opportunity and we take the lead in this transition. We work closely with partners such as European tech company Signicat – after all, we don’t and can’t do everything ourselves”.
“We are expanding our services around open banking even further, and are therefore responding to the wishes of our customers,” says Strauss. “They want to be able to bank in various ways, not just through the usual channels of the bank itself. That is why we help them bank the way they want to. We call this “banking-as-a-service”. For example, we are working on offering loans through different platforms, such as payment service providers or accounting packages. The uNLock consortium is also a great example. The collaboration with other parties and within the bank itself provides services that offer real added value to society.
Nico Strauss is within Rabobank responsible for the fields of payments (payments), identity services (identification services) and the open development portal. The latter is a platform where Rabobank works with clients and software developers to build APIs. “Rabobank is the only bank in Europe that has put these domains together: One business unit that can help the customer in terms of payments, identity and data.”
By bundling these three domains, Rabobank is able to develop rock-solid products for its customers, according to Strauss. He points to the Rabo Identity Services. “The technique that the bank uses to get money from A to B can also be used to determine someone’s identity. Consumers use the familiar and secure environment they know from their bank, whilst business customers benefit from this with new, frictionless customer journeys. From the construction workers who can identify themselves for access to a construction side, and seniors who want to know who comes to the door, to entrepreneurs who can make it much easier for their customers in the field of onboarding.”
Data to help
The advantage of Rabo Identity Services is that the consumers trust reputable banks when it comes to the security of their identity data. Strauss: “This is evident from a recent study by our partner Signicat. While at the same time, people’s confidence is falling in this area with big techs like Google and Facebook, partly due to scandals such as Cambridge Analytica. The image of a bank may sometimes be a bit dusty, but Rabobank does not do things with your money and data that others might do. We have prepared a data manifesto, which states, among other things, that data always remains the property of our customers and that we only use it to help them further.”
A great example
According to Strauss, solutions for open banking and the cooperation between the three domains give substance to the cooperative bank of the 21st century. “Rabobank has traditionally been good at bringing parties together. The world has become more complex and collaboration is needed more than ever to continue to improve and innovate. If we want to help bring our customers further, we have to deal with all kinds of possible partners and stakeholders. As a cooperative bank, this is an ideal connecting role for us.”
As an example of this role, Strauss mentions a recent significant improvement in iDEAL payments. “Many webshops work with a payment service provider to pay, and the name of that party appeared on the consumers bank statement. This caused confusion. Rabobank, therefore, took the initiative with payment service provider Mollie and in consultation with the Consumers’ Association, could place the name of the webshop instead. Much clearer for customers and also fewer complaints and questions for the payment service provider and the bank. The change is an improvement for every party in the chain. And each of those parties could have picked this up, but it is precisely this role that is best suited for Rabobank.”
New knowledge and expertise
In order to make innovations possible in the field of open banking, Rabobank brings in people specifically from outside the sector. Strauss is an example of this. “Previously, I worked at Dun & Bradstreet and a payment service provider. When Rabobank approached me, I saw that they really want to work on change and innovation. By bringing in new knowledge and expertise, listening carefully to what society demands and responding to it, Rabobank can be the cooperative financial service provider of the future.”