Open Bank Project

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= building an open source RESTful API platform so that banks and their customers can securely and cost effectively adopt Web 2.0, Open Source and 3rd party tools, services and strategies

URL = http://www.openbankproject.com/


Definition

"Via an API made available to banks, bank account-holders will be able share their transaction data with others, be it an individual, shareholders, investors or anyone who might want access ... OBP is an entirely open source project available on Github, and it’s inviting developers, organizations and individuals to experiment with financial transparency " [1]

Description

1.

"The Open Bank Project develops Open Source Software called the OBP API (Application Programming Interface). In general, an API is a piece of software and/or a set of rules that many independent programmers can embed into their own software programs to make them talk to each other. “Open Source” means that the software is freely usable, auditable and reusable by everybody, so it can’t play tricks. The OBP API “exposes banking transactions to larger audiences and to software applications”. In normal human language, this means something incredibly powerful: the holder of a bank account managed with OBP-compatible software will be able (if he or she decides so, of course) to let everybody, or just some selected individuals, see some transactions on that bank account automatically, in real time from the Internet." (http://stop.zona-m.net/2010/12/if-banking-were-more-open-source-we-would-need-less-wikileaks/)


2.


"The Open Bank Project is a European initiative to open up financial transactions to much larger groups of individuals and raise the bar of financial transparency. It will achieve this by allowing a diverse range of third-party software applications (including fraud analysis tools, web apps, mobile apps, social widgets and payment gateways) to access any bank account that supports the Open Bank Protocol and API. Once a bank supports the Open Bank Protocol, account holders could opt in to the protocol and choose which groups of users would have access to the account. Security will be assured by a combination of in-house security expertise and scrutiny from the open source community. Why?

In Europe, it is estimated that over €30 Billion are lost to fraud and corruption each year. In a recent survey, 78% of European citizens considered corruption to be a problem in their own country. Recent financial crises raise other questions about our financial systems. The success of "Web 2.0", "crowd sourcing" and "open source" demonstrates that the public - and commerce - can make great use of open data (wikipedia) and open tools (linux, apache, firefox). Greater open connectivity to financial systems will result in increased choice and quality for the consumer." (http://openbankproject.com/about-open-bank-project/)


Status

February 2013:

"In terms of where OBP currently is in its evolution, well, it’s still at a very early stage. It could still be years before we see this concept refined and rolled out, but it’s an interesting experiment with the use of Web 2.0 tools and open APIs." (http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/02/13/open-bank-project/)


Interview

Conducted by Marco Fioretti:

"Simon Redfern: About 5 years ago I started hearing and thinking (more) about corruption. I can’t remember exactly what made me conceive of it – and it wasn’t a formal process – but at some point I suddenly had the idea of a new type of bank where all the accounts were open for the public to see. This was the original idea and since then it has matured.

At first I thought I should keep the idea secret and think up some kind of business plan to take advantage of the concept so I didn’t talk to many people about it. However, the people I did speak to responded energetically – and a good friend of mine from the UK suggested a “protocol” so that the idea could be applied to other banks too.

Then in 2008, while working in Athens, I noticed lots of construction sites with European Union (EU) boards proclaiming “Funded by the EU”. When I mentioned this enthusiastically to somebody she said: “Yes but Simon, there’s so much corruption here!”. So, this got me thinking more about realising the project – and then of course, two years later, Greece collapsed.


By 2010, I had also come to know APIs better. My company TESOBE had built them for our internal projects musicpictures.com and eviscape.com; besides, it was easy for me to see that if Web services such as Flickr and Twitter have grown so well it is also because of APIs. The reasons is that APIs massively extend the IT team of a company, because they let external developers use the companies data and services to build innovative applications creatively and independently.

At the same time, I have been understanding more about the silent revolution that is “Open Source” and I realised that the issues concerned (public money, corruption etc) are too important and require too wide an adoption to not involve the Open Source community.

Corruption was the catalyst for the project – but the Open Bank Project is definitely also about better, simpler, cooler banking, business and financial apps and a more open philosophy towards software development and business too.' (http://stop.zona-m.net/2010/12/if-banking-were-more-open-source-we-would-need-less-wikileaks/)


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