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API Standardization as a Way of Doing a Successful Business

How API Standardization Can Save Money and Time on Implementation

What Is API Standardization 
With globalization and streamlined technological progress, the IT sphere has experienced unprecedented growth. Unfortunately, this development was also associated with a range of problems related to standardization. Just imagine the world without standards - millions of people were coding with own style and approach, which often led to inconsistent, unpredictable, and poorly designed code, which was difficult to deal with. It was a true nightmare for IT specialists, since it created great confusion and significantly slowed down the IT solutions production process. It was also bad for the end users who were often suffering from apps and IT solutions with numerous bugs.

Imagine that you need to build a wall. When you do not have standards, you can build it in different ways. For example, instead of building with bricks and cement, you can build it with stone, a cucumber, a stick, honey, and wood. It is possible to build a wall with such materials? Yes. But is it the optimal way, and will it serve well the end purpose? Now, imagine that you need to build something more complicated than a wall!

The appearance of standards changed everything. Standardization of APIs became a necessity since it helped to create and adopt the global style governance and elements for all APIs in a company and allowed pursuing the digital transformation of the business smoothly and efficiently. Standardization of API design also became a common blueprint for architects, developers, and technical writers to ensure a consistent experience in API consumption. Still, companies need to also remember that API standards alone are not sufficient to provide a smooth developer experience. It is necessary to do proper testing, develop a high-quality sandbox environment, and pay attention to many other similar issues (for example, the development of documentation and requirements to API format, etc.). It is the bare minimum to follow and update APIs according to international standards, but still, a lot of companies skip this important work, since they wish to reduce the cost of project support and want to complete the project fast. Today, the standards might change every 2 months in fast-growing regions like Africa, which can be a real challenge for fintech companies, but still, it is worth doing to ensure that business is respectful to the contemporary needs and demands of the market. It's crucial to regularly update the API standards, as this ensures the company's continuous growth and market competitiveness.

What Are the Features of Well-Designed APIs
The APIs should correspond to the following requirements to be considered well-done:

  • Concise and complete - there should be potential for growth over time so that developers can easily build new APIs on top of the existing ones. 

  • Difficult to misuse - all the processes should be presented straightforwardly and clearly. Such an approach allows for minimizing the possibility of writing incorrect code.

  • Easy to read and work with -  all the operations and resources should be easy to memorize and understand for developers who constantly work with it.

The Most Popular API Standards
In the last decade, a lot of important advancements in terms of standardization were made on the global, regional, and national levels. Thus, presently, banking platforms all over the world have implemented a range of API standards to keep up with the latest trends, needs, and requirements of the market. For example, according to statistics, 84% of all banking platforms all around the globe are utilizing the Open API Specification Standard (OAS) for describing their APIs. Also, each country has own standardization specifics:

  • Mexico - Open Data ATM API specification;
  • Brazil - The Joint Resolution;
  • The UK - Regulatory Technical Standards;
  • India - Unified Payments Interface;
  • Singapore - API Playbook;
  • Nigeria - Open API standards;
  • Bahrain - Open Banking Framework;
  • Saudi Arabia - The Open Banking Policy.

Besides,  the big tech giants (like Google, Microsoft, etc.) have also created own standards (called guidelines), according to their vision and understanding of what API standardization should look like. Among the most popular API style guidelines, it is necessary to mention the following:

  • Google API Design Guide;
  • Microsoft REST API Guidelines;
  • PayPal API Style Guide;
  • IBM: The Business of APIs;

Why is API Standardisation Important? 
It Brings Clarity to the Interaction with the Developers 
It is easy to demonstrate the value of API standardization by comparing it with real estate development. When engineers and architects design buildings, they always try to ensure that windows, doors, and rooms correspond to certain standards and requirements. Such an approach from one side makes the work of the construction team easier, while from the other side it makes the residing experience better and safer.

The same applies to API standards. If APIs are designed consistently and functionally, it makes a considerably better experience, since developers know what to expect and how to deal with accompanying arising issues. With sophisticated APIs, a developer can build apps more smoothly and intuitively. The more functional are the APIs, the better applications are built.

It Saves Money and Time on Implementation
API standardization helps to implement technical solutions faster since the developers can code more quickly, being familiar with the standards, and understand clearly how everything works. Having a relatable, easy-to-comprehend,  and clean design of APIs also allows to ensure that each stakeholder understands what to do with the API and how. Also, there are no problems or misconceptions regarding the interpretation of different protocols, the meaning of the nomenclature, as well as functionality of APIs. Finally, standardization and the speed of implementation that it brings can be regarded as an additional revenue opportunity, which can bring significant benefits to the business.

It Improves Scalability of the Business
The investment into the standardization of APIs is not only about improvement of the implementation process, but also about improvement in the updates and development of the new APIs. In its turn, it helps to better scale the business for the future, ensuring smooth and timely growth.

API Standardization in Open Banking in Different Parts of the World
API standardization is especially important in the domain of open banking, since thanks to it, banks and fintechs can ensure a smooth exchange of data and flowing integration with partners, and thus provide a high-quality and comfortable customer experience. The degree of standardization of open banking is different around the world and it might take the following forms:

  • not standardized - the market lacks the standards on the national level (Canada, Colombia, Kenya, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt);

  • functional - the high-level standards are introduced on the national level (the European Union, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Brazil, Nigeria, Rwanda, Bahrain, Saudi  Arabia, Turkey, Israel);

  • technical - the market provides the concrete technical specifications (the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, Argentina, Mexico);

The following figure demonstrates the forms of standardization in different parts of the world

a member-uploaded image

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