The best way to tell the FDX story is through the voice of our members. Welcome to the FDX Member Spotlight series, in which we sit down with some of the professionals from FDX member firms who juggle the responsibility of their day jobs with developing, integrating and implementing the FDX standard for the benefit of consumers and the entire financial services industry. We ask them about their experiences, goals and thoughts on the process.
Allan Foster, ForgeRock, Vice President - Global Partner Success
Nick Caley, ForgeRock, Vice President - Financial Services and Regulatory
Why did ForgeRock join the Financial Data Exchange?
Allan Foster: When an ecosystem is founded, it’s important to have consensus around a specification that everyone can sign up to. The standard really becomes the rules of the game. This is particularly true in the financial services industry, where you’re bringing in a lot of different third-party providers and dealing with the most sensitive, critical data which individuals share with their bank. You need to make sure that all the necessary security and privacy controls are incorporated into that standard. It was clear to us that, given FDX’s relationship with FS-ISAC, and its birth from that organization, that this was an ecosystem that ForgeRock absolutely needed to be a part of. And, we felt that we could contribute to as well.
How does ForgeRock fit in with FDX’s mission?
Allan Foster: ForgeRock is a digital identity platform and many of our customers are already members of FDX. But in essence, every large financial institution today is looking at the way they are able to share data securely with their partners. In this process, it’s really about how all elements of identity –whether it's authentication, authorization, consent management or privacy– come together to provide a safe, secure and seamless experience when individuals consent to sharing data with a third party.
Nick Caley: In the process of any type of data exchange, you always need to know and trust where it's coming from, who it's about, and whom it's going to, and be able to manage that whole spectrum – which is what ForgeRock does. Given our expertise in this field, we believe we are a perfect hand-in-glove fit with the goals FDX is trying to achieve.
What’s your experience with implementing the FDX API?
Nick Caley: At this point, we have limited experience around the actual implementation of the API, but a number of our customers are heading in that direction. Being part of FDX’s working groups and understanding the specification at a granular level ensures that our team is ready to implement the API. That being said, I think there’s a lot of cross-reference from our experience in countries like the UK with its open banking program; Europe with its PSD2; and Australia with its consumer data right. We hope to leverage this international experience for FDX.
What are some of the unique challenges you see in the UK versus the U.S. or Canada?
Nick Caley: We've been involved with UK Open Banking from the very beginning – which was about three years go. We were actually in the same room when the CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] brought the nine leading banks to the table in an effort to define a standard. We built the reference implementation for the Open Banking Implementation Entity, and developed a model bank that Third Party Providers [TPP] would test their own applications against.
When I look at other open banking ecosystems around the world, what’s unique about FDX is that everything is in play right now. Every kind of account. We’re bringing in the independent brokers, advisers, the agents, the distribution network – you really need to look at a peer-to-peer, consent-enabled, secure sharing model. And that’s fairly unique right now. Many of the open banking ecosystems we see around the world are pretty focused around payments data or account information. But what FDX is proposing is using the aggregated financial data to paint a fuller picture, and to provide more detailed insights that enable any individual to do their financial planning. And we absolutely want to be a part of that.
Allan Foster: The biggest difference I see between the U.S. and other markets is that many of the API standards around the world tend to come from government bodies and regulators, meaning they are implemented in the realm of compliance. Where FDX really shows a difference is that it’s almost one hundred percent market-driven and developed by the people who are delivering the services. The benefits of this approach are that we are coming up with standards that make sense in terms of the services they are trying to provide, which makes the standard much richer and broader in scope in terms of the kinds of entities that can participate in this structure.
Where do you see the industry going?
Nick Caley: I think where we’re really heading is toward open data. I think it only starts within the financial services ecosystems. But the concept will ultimately evolve and include data from across multiple sectors. Due to the type of data that is being shared in this industry, there’s clearly a very high bar for our work. So, I think what's being set down in FDX’s standards is something other sectors will be looking at as a reference point in the future.
We see this already playing out in markets like Australia, which has very ambitious regulation. They are starting with open banking, and will then be moving to energy, and later into telecommunication services. In essence, the game on data ownership really has changed and consumers are now empowered to decide what's happening with their data.
Allan Foster: I think the same thing that is happening to IT will be happening to enterprises as well. We're moving towards the world of microservices that are delivered autonomously. The age of the big monolithic enterprise that provides an all-or-nothing capability will cease to exist. Instead, we're going to start seeing much more agile service deliveries that are provided by multiple enterprises that each have a particular expertise. We feel that open data is really about breaking down the silos of the monolithic enterprise.
What benefits are you expecting from open data frameworks – both for consumers and enterprises?
Nick Caley: It’s all about insight. I think the more information we have on what we’ve done in the past – and bring that into a real-time setting – the better prepared we are to make informed decisions for the future.
Most school systems don’t teach people how to manage their money. So, I think there’s high potential for digital offerings to nudge people towards responsible financial behavior. This includes both long-term planning –such as investments and retirement planning– as well as day-to-day spending habits.
Allan Foster: I touched on this before, but I really believe that financial institutions are going to start focusing on the things they do well. From a consumer’s perspective, you might want to choose different providers for your various financial needs that each specialize in a service subset. For example, you may want your business account to be at an institution that has international transfer capabilities, but you want your personal savings accounts to be managed locally. We are moving to a microservice business landscape, where consumers will have the capability to go for a particular service they want and where they need it, rather than having to accept the all-or-nothing service from their conventional bank.
The future is all about the consumer, and I’m proud we’re actively contributing to this development with our work.