Russell Jones and James Bergin at the Innovation Lab at North Wharf, ASB's headquarters at Auckland's Viaduct.ASB is providing a publicly-facing Application Programming Interface (API) framework and portal, which will make useful financial information from its systems available for developers to consume and use in their apps.

The initial APIs, which the bank says are a first for the local finance sector, will provide access to multiple interest rate feeds, foreign exchange rates, and ASB ATM and branch locations.

Russell Jones, ASB executive general manager technology and innovation, says he expects the platform will encourage developers to create innovative financial experiences for their users that are powered by ASB APIs.

"ASB has always been at the centre of innovation and now we're breaking down the barriers financial organisations traditionally had around this type of data, to help power the digital economy," says Jones.

"APIs will make it easier to do business with ASB. By sharing data more easily and enabling secure, customer-authenticated access, ASB will help foster innovation within the developer community."

ASB's real-time banking capability, introduced in 1969, has helped prepare the bank for this move.

"The digital world is a real-time world, and real-time banking is part of ASB's DNA," says Jones. "That's why we are best-positioned to lead in this space."

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As with internal systems, security remains the number one priority for ASB as it enables external APIs, says Jones.

"The portal has been built with enterprise-class infrastructure and we have carried out exhaustive security testing, as we do for all our digital properties."

App developers can call on these APIs from inside their existing and new applications. For example, an app might use the foreign exchange rate information for real-time currency conversion, or a news website could get the latest home loan rates to display on its site.

Similar API technology is provided by Google, Apple and Twitter and has encouraged the development of a vibrant ecosystem of apps and websites, ASB says in a statement.

Although this first set of public (non-authenticated) APIs focus on providing easier access to information that is already available on the ASB website and mobile platforms, the bank will expand the offering to include a number of private APIs in the future.

Developers are required to register themselves and their application on the portal in order to get an API 'key' that unlocks access to the data and functionality provided.

Bridges, not walls

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James Bergin, ASB chief architect, says the platform represents a "bridges not walls" approach to the way banks share data.

"Customers want access to their banking wherever they are, in whichever apps they choose. So we are now building some robust and safe 'bridges' into our environment which will make it easier to access and use financial information and capability in a variety of apps and digital experiences," says Bergin.

"Previously, the only way to directly interact with the bank digitally was as a person sitting in front of a web browser or using a mobile app. But now, a registered and trusted application can get that information for itself. In other words, it's software talking to software.

"We are excited to be the first NZ bank to unlock this opportunity for the software development community."

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