In the seven years since Pronovix specialized in developer portals, we’ve witnessed the rush for compliance with the European PSD2 directive in the banking sector, the rise to prominence of API marketplaces, and the steady growth of internal API programs as they start to overshadow external API programs.
We also noticed a change in the case of DevPortal Awards nominees. As Professor Michael Meng (Applied Linguistics at Merseburg University of Applied Science) highlighted during the 2022 DevPortal Awards Jury interview, “The overall quality I think has grown impressively. So a couple years ago we had some portals that really stood out. But it’s different this year, and it has been different last year already. So we have many, many excellent portals.”
Even late adopters are all in
A few years ago, a person with deep knowledge of the Swiss banking sector shared with us his point of view on how devportals were coming along in the Swiss market. He felt that Swiss banks were taking a ‘wait and see’ approach: relying on banks in the European market that were forced to do public APIs because of PSD2 to figure out what API business models work. In his opinion, Swiss banks perceived too much strategic risk to make a big bet on APIs.
Over the past year we’ve learned about large deliberate internal and external API programs at several Swiss banks.
Digital as a key differentiator: the example of KBC in Belgium
If done properly, APIs can become a strategic source of value. One example of a company that has turned its digital initiative into a key differentiator is KBC bank in Belgium. For a couple of years now, they have been heavily investing in their digital consumer brand. “Kate” as the program is called is a digital persona that interacts with customers through an advanced banking app that gives customers access to their accounts, and also helps them to schedule meetings, and sign contracts. The app even has a plugin feature with applications that are relevant to sectors like mobility, entrepreneurship, housing, and energy.
On their developer portal KBC has both an API catalogue for developers and a business solution catalogue with QR codes and widgets that can be used without custom API integrations. What makes KBC’s API program exceptional is that it is executed as a holistic digital brand initiative that has clear strategic business objectives. As a result, KBC is seen as one of the most technologically progressive banks in their home market, the partner program generates indirect value for KBC, as (most of) its API’s are currently free to use.
APIs & developer portals: a cost of doing business
While most of the organizations we interact with are looking for a devportal to be able to execute a deliberate API strategy, the narrative why they do so is shifting. APIs used to be a pioneer solution, but now we see more companies that consider APIs as a must-have to be able to remain competitive. We’ve even had a few customers that needed to deploy a devportal urgently, to be able to participate in essential RFPs for large customers. These customers now require their vendors to have a developer portal to be able to participate in a bid.
Standing up a basic developer portal to satisfy urgent demands and then being able to go back and improve and fine-tune the portal when time and budget allow turns out to be a key advantage here. The Zero Gravity devportal can be such an effective and quick start. Customers can make changes to their portal without migrating off an often simplistic SaaS-like product and respond quickly to changing market conditions and requirements.
_All Pronovix publications are the fruit of a team effort, enabled by the research and collective knowledge of the entire Pronovix team. Our ideas and experiences are greatly shaped by our clients and the communities we participate in._
Kristof van Tomme
Kristof Van Tomme is an open source strategist and architect. He is the CEO and co-founder of Pronovix. He’s got a degree in bioengineering and is a regular speaker at conferences in the API, developer relations, and technical writing communities. He is the host of the Developer Success & the Business of APIs and the API Resilience podcasts.