New Zealand Makes Open Banking Progress

Open Banking and APIs are making headway in New Zealand after a year-long pilot program. In the U.S. (and beyond), Signature Bank has signed on to offer financial services to FinTech firms based in Bermuda.

Open Banking has been making inroads in countries dotting the globe, and news came this past week that New Zealand is making progress on that front.

As reported in FinTech Futures, Payments NZ has debuted the first application programming interface (API) standards tied to account data and payment initiations. The move comes after a pilot launched last year, involving several stakeholders in the industry, spanning Datacom, BNZ, Westpac and others.

The overarching approach has been to bring API standards to bear so that financial firms can speed the time it takes to bring new products and services to market.

Steve Wiggins, chief executive of Payments NZ said, “These open payments-related standards will be used as an important building block for new innovation, which can benefit all Kiwis.” He added that, upon the release of the standards, among “key insights has been the value of getting some practical experience under our belts.” The new standards will be available in a few months, with reports noting that Payments NZ is also looking into 365-day service availability, and speeding up payment systems overall.

In the U.S., New York-based Signature Bank will offer services to FinTech firms in Bermuda, according to reports last week. The reports noted that banks in Bermuda “have mostly avoided” working with FinTech firms. Premier of Bermuda David Burt said, “Signature Bank’s willingness to consider Bermuda-licensed businesses for banking services is a significant vote of confidence in, and endorsement of, Bermuda’s efforts to create a leading, high-standard regulatory regime for FinTech business.”

As reported, Bermuda has changed regulations to work with crypto and FinTech firms, and amended its Banks and Deposit Companies Act last year to create a new class of tech-driven businesses. Also last year, the government proposed new regulations that governed initial coin offerings (ICOs), through which issuers were required to provide more information than had been mandated previously.

Late last year, Signature Bank was authorized by the New York State Department of Financial Services to offer a blockchain-based platform. Signature Bank CEO Joseph DePaolo told The Royal Gazette that “since launching at the start of the year, our blockchain-based Signet system has onboarded multiple clients who are using it to send each other millions of dollars, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. … Currently, we are seeing trades in the millions some days, and tens of millions other days, with the number of Signet clients in the triple digits.”

In Israel, reports stated that a ministerial team recommended a regulatory sandbox be established, and focused on FinTech. As seen across the globe, sandboxes allow early stage companies to have at least some regulatory exemptions as they test their products and services. According to CTech, the finance ministry announced the recommendations from the team, which had been formed more than a year ago, and was comprised of individuals spanning the ministries of finance and justice, the securities authority and the tax authority.

Recommendations included the establishment of a “one stop” address for those companies, where technology lies beyond the existing “scope” of regulations. As reported, per data from the finance ministry, 400 FinTech startups operate in the country — where insurance and loans are a collective 17 percent of those firms, and blockchain and cryptos another 10 percent.