Hong Kong Smart Banking Via API And Citi Pay With Points

Government initiatives can serve as a tailwind under bank/FinTech partnerships, as shown in Hong Kong and beyond.  And APIs gain ground with Citi in that region, while Armenia sees some additional forays into digital banking

If the push to faster, customizable banking is being spurred by the ongoing collaborations between traditional FIs and FinTechs, a third leg to the story — one that gives additional tailwinds to the movement toward ones and zeros — comes in the form of government initiatives.

Some governments, it seems, are more on board with application programming interfaces (APIs) than others, and one of the more engaged participants in this arena is Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is debuting its Open API Framework for banking and is launching its own API the same week.

The framework marks one of seven initiatives announced by the HKMA in September of last year, aimed at collaboration between banks and FinTechs. As noted by industry sources, such as CDO Trends, the HKMA garnered more than 40 responses across stakeholders such as banks and card firms, as well as FinTechs, of course.

The framework finds foundation with international technical standards, along with details on how banks should work with these partners to ensure that consumer protections are in place.

HKMA’s API has 130 information sets that span financial data, and 50 of them can already be accessed; the remainder will come through the next year.

The initiative comes as the HKMA also has been bolstering blockchain efforts, in tandem with Singapore, to digitize trade finance between the two markets.

Singapore, for its own part, said that Everex, a FinTech, has partnered with Myanmar’s Shwe Bank to bring remittances between Myanmar and Thailand, backed by blockchain. The efforts will let migrant workers send money from Thailand to Myanmar or Singapore at a lower cost than has been seen with traditional methods.

In terms of individual company initiatives, Citi said it has added three new API partners in Hong Kong. Among the firms joining the API “ecosystem” are EGL Tours, Watsons and Fortress, which will integrate with Citi Pay by way of the Points API. The initiative, the banking giant said, will enable Citi cardholders to offset online purchases using their reward points instantly after checkout.

“This follows the successful introduction of the Citi Pay with Points service on HKTVmall in March,” Citi said in a statement. “At the time of the launch, over 50 percent of Citi credit cardholders who shop on the HKTVmall platform had experienced the convenience of being able to pay for online purchases using reward points.”

Future FinTech Group, based in the U.S., said this month it has established a wholly owned subsidiary in Beijing — Chain Future Digital FinTech. The firm will serve as an incubator and accelerator for blockchain, with an eye on blockchain infrastructure support. In terms of services being supported, some initial focus will be on public administration services.

Future FinTech and trade publications, such as Cointrust, noted that the subsidiary is being created in part to help promote Future FinTech Group’s accelerator, “Chain World Cyberspace.”

Moving beyond East Asian news, into Armenia, VTB Bank has said that it, along with digital banking platform eKassir, has launched mobile banking and boosted efforts across its own digital banking platform.

The platform, the firms said in a statement, lets firms manage accounts, transfer funds and work across multi-currency services. Related mobile apps work with fingerprint and face recognition technology.