It takes a team to make a dream come true. That also goes for the launch of the KBC Developer Portal: another step on the innovative road of KBC. Partners can look for integration of KBC’s financial services into their own offering. So what is it like to be part of this (r)evolution? We took a peek behind the scenes with Katrien Van Gijsel, Business Innovation Manager and Chair of the Developer Portal’s Board of Experts.
Businesses can now integrate KBC solutions into their products and services with the Developer Portal. There are a variety of ways to set up the required technical connection, and APIs are one option. Over the years, Application Program Interfaces have evolved a lot. They went from internal components to technical building blocks that connect companies and exchange data. KBC is a pioneer in this field. All its Open Banking solutions are available on the API platform. At first, the KBC Developer Portal only offered PSD2 payment solutions, such as the KBC payment button and the cashless payment app Payconiq. Then the new API technology unleashed a wide range of business solutions, all based on certain themes that are set to grow further still in the future.
“I’m a big fan ofopen banking: it allows us to open up our distribution channels to others,” Katrien Van Gijsel says. “PSD2 was a huge leap forward. It has opened up a wide range of opportunities for third parties. I work in the business unit Open & Beyond Banking & Insurance (OBI). OBI looks at the products and services we can offer via third parties. An API business model is about so much more than simply setting up an API. It also includes support, monetisation, partner onboarding and reporting.”
The idea of joining forces with third parties is relatively new in Belgium, particularly in the financial world. Van Gijsel says it is all about ‘ecosystem thinking’, which is a perfectly normal (r)evolution in this day and age.
“As a Business Innovation Manager, I am always on the lookout for new business models with third parties. This includes ways to sell our products through third-party channels. We made on-demand financing available directly in the Teamleader tool, for instance. Win-win-win.
From co-creation to customer centricity
So what goes on behind the scenes during the creation of an innovation like the Developer Portal? How did we partner up with firms such as bike merchant Fiets! and software company Teamleader?
“For innovation and expansion to thrive, it is vital that everyone is on the same page. In other words, you have to make sure the entire team is working together in support of the project. The governance aspect is also hard work. Value creation for third parties is another crucial factor. That is why I always say: “Innovation is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
Of course, what matters most is the value for the end customer, the user of the services. Van Gijsel underlines that all KBC innovations have a strong customer focus. The technology has to serve a clear purpose. That is where the developer portal and the various APIs fit in. “Why would anyone want their customers to go through five different stages, if you can offer everything in one convenient go?”
To ensure strict supervision, KBC has set up an independent Board of Experts, which is chaired by Van Gijsel. “We don’t build things from an ivory tower. Our goal is to find opportunities together and to support each other. The Board of Experts consists of the users themselves, so it is a great sounding board. It makes the users more visible.”
Dynamic work design
The current version of the Developer Portal is a minimum viable product (MVP). Van Gijsel assures: “There is still a lot of work to be done, but that’s the case with every innovation. We have to keep our finger on the pulse of the developments, as they are in a constant state of flux.”
The KBC Developer Portal is based on dynamic work design, a process that is constantly improving. “In time, we hope to turn this into a two-sided marketplace,” Van Gijsel says. “In any case, we will always be guided by the client benefits. If the clients are happy, we have done a good job.”
To find out more or to become a partner yourself, see the Developer Portal integration options.
Author: Magali De Reu, Storyteller & interviewer