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API Sandbox And Open Banking Collaboration Debut In UAE

Open banking and APIs make inroads into the United Arab Emirates, via sandbox. In Asia, FinTech and FI collaboration work via Temenos and SPD Bank to bring innovation labs to the region.

Open banking is spreading to new regions, evidenced by recent headlines from Europe and Asia, and in news reported this week, the Middle East, specifically the United Arab Emirates.

Open APIs, as has been detailed in this space, help enable third-party developers to build applications and services on offer with and from traditional financial institutions.

To that end, Emirates NBD said Monday (November 5) that it has enabled open banking collaboration, announcing the launch of its API Sandbox. The company said that the announcement makes Emirates NBD “the first UAE bank to introduce a platform in the region.” The announcement noted the AED 1 billion that has been committed by the bank to digital efforts. The sandbox, said the bank and as reported in the Saudi Gazette, will accelerate innovation amid partnerships including FinTechs and FIs. The company said that the platform consists of more than 200 APIs and 900 endpoints that span retail, corporates and small to mid-sized enterprises. Developers, said Emirates NBD, will have access to more than three million simulated customer transactions based on the Banking Industry Architecture Network model.

The companies said that Emirates NBD’s API Sandbox is powered by Virtusa, a U.S.-based information technology services company, and enabled by the Group CIO Miguel Rio Tinto.

Separately, with an eye on banking services tied to retail investing, Alpaca, an API-based stock brokerage out of Silicon Valley, said it has launched a commission-free trading platform where individuals use algorithms and trading bots — along with AI — amid daily trading activities. The company also said it has raised $3 million in a pre-series A, with investors including Global Brain, based in Japan, D4V (otherwise known as Design for Ventures) and others.

Alpaca, a registered broker-dealer, said that on its platform traders can open accounts, deposit money and deploy their own algorithms or trading bots so that all stock transactions occur automatically (rather than manually, as has been seen with other platforms). The company said that more than 4,000 accounts are on a waiting list.

Amid other collaborative efforts, Commerce Bank said last week that it had entered a multi-year partnership with SixThirty, a venture fund based in St. Louis focused on FinTech. As part of the strategic relationship, Commerce will provide what the companies said in a release would be “hands-on training and mentoring” to companies selected to be part of the venture fund’s business development program.

Commerce Bank said in the announcement that executives Bob Holmes, chairman and CEO of Commerce Bank, St. Louis Region, and Dave Roller, chief information officer, are members of SixThirty’s Investment Committee. That committee evaluates the investment pipeline, according to the firms.

Innovation Lab Efforts in Shanghai

Beyond the United States, in China, FinTech software firm Temenos said at the beginning of the week that it is working with Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) to jointly establish an innovation lab in Shanghai. The companies said in a release that they will work together to identify market requirements and also develop digital ecosystems. Temenos will provide the technology platform behind those efforts, the companies said. Crowdfund Insider reported that the joint efforts will let SPD Bank leverage open APIs to work with third parties.

“The Innovation Lab will allow the bank and Temenos to validate banking business scenarios, integrate innovative solutions into SPD Bank’s production environment, and deploy new technologies in a fast and efficient manner,” said Temenos, adding that the lab will help onboard Chinese FinTechs into the Temenos Marketplace, which has offerings across more than 150 financial software products and more than 65 FinTech vendors.

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