November 9, 2022

Key Takeaways from API Days London 2022

Was it strange to be back at the Mermaid theatre after two years? Yes. Even more so because this time I was on stage speaking in front of the API Days audience.

Aside from sharing insights on metaverse banking, I attended expert talks and had a lot of out-of-the-box conversations. By the end, I was informed, entertained and inspired – and I’m going to share some of that with you.

Without further ado, here are my main takeaways from API Days London 2022 and a quick look at the major trends propelling us forward:


1. Embedded Financial Services

We’re seeing an increasing number of non-financial brands using embedded financial services. Think of Amazon Pay, Apple’s Tap to Pay for merchants, or smaller companies such as the Zolvers employment marketplace which partnered with BBVA to provide banking services to users.

In this regard, Mark Boyd highlighted two key characteristics in his presentation:

  • making financial services available at point-of-interaction
  • repackaging data and inserting it back into the value chain

The intention here is to allow brands to integrate financial services into their offerings at different points of the customer journey, ultimately providing a seamless experience and working more harmoniously with users towards their goals.


2. A Focus on Green Finance

With the financial sector acknowledging its role in reducing carbon emissions, the topic of sustainability is being approached from various perspectives.

Sarah Hsu, a site reliability engineer from Goldman Sachs, introduced the challenge of making software sustainable, and presented a few solutions:

  • Carbon Efficiency: Emit the least amount of carbon possible, i.e stop adding carbon to the atmosphere to achieve net zero;
  • Energy Efficiency: Build software that consumes the least amount of electricity possible;
  • Carbon Awareness / Carbon Intensity: Different sources of electricity have different carbon footprints, so the third solution is to consume electricity with the lowest carbon intensity;
  • Hardware Efficiency: Use the least amount of embodied carbon possible. Embodied carbon is the amount of carbon pollution we produce when we create hardware devices. Software developers can make sure applications run smoothly on all hardware to increase durability.

These are actually some of the principles of green software engineering, find all of them here.

Parna Bhattacharya from Google and Paul Rohan mentioned the use of digital twins. By equipping physical assets with IoT devices, APIs could transmit information about the carbon emission data of the host devices. In particular, Paul dives into the role of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emission data.

3. Using APIs to help Citizens in Times of Crisis

I enjoyed this presentation a lot. Jacqui Leggetter, Head of Integration at the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), showed us how good use of APIs has transformed the experience of UK citizens when asking for support during the pandemic lockdown and after.

When the crisis hit, there was an unprecedented demand for support (more than ten times the usual amount). This is what DWP did:

  • implemented a “check person” API to automate previously-manual claim processing;
  • enabled digital transfer and automated processing of medical assessments to help citizens who couldn’t work due to health issues;
  • real-time eligibility checks for prescription medications to avoid later penalties in case of clashing information.
Jacqui presenting the slide: "supporting citizens through digitising medical reports"

Other real-time eligibility check APIs that are commonly used in DWP (and across local government departments) include:

  • DVLA – road tax exemption;
  • LA – free school meals;
  • Home Office – the right to reside in the UK;
  • Scottish Government – citizen information and benefit;
  • HMRC – tax-free childcare entitlement.

These APIs saved major amounts of manual work and sped up processing for critical requests and claims.

Overall, this talk showed me more tangible and successful uses of “APIs for the good of society” in one presentation than in many other presentations I’d previously seen.

4. We’re getting closer to equal opportunities

The closing panel brought together a mix of ages, genders, and backgrounds to discuss equality in startups and large companies.

Organisations are realising that younger generations are unlikely to choose them if the brand doesn’t reflect their values. In fact, just the thought that there is little diversity in a particular team might be enough to put a candidate off. Though women are still underrepresented in technical jobs, we’re seeing an increasing amount of female leadership across organisations.

This of course is not to say that organisations with male leadership can’t also be diverse. There are many male champions of gender equality, and they are also leading the way in this revolution.

5. Organisations need more accurate information about the metaverse

Although the metaverse topic was received with great enthusiasm by many, it’s clear that there’s a lot of disinformation and misinformation surrounding the metaverse.

I think at this point, it’s important for institutions to start distinguishing between the metaverse and some of the erroneously associated concepts.

That is:

  • The Metaverse ≠ Blockchain
  • The Metaverse ≠ Meta (Facebook)
  • Overpriced JPEG NFTs ≠ Digital Immersive Art

I’ll write more about this soon.

The final takeaway from API Days was that today APIs are much more familiar in the financial services sector, so institutions are looking for ways to go beyond. Namely, they are refining their API management processes, expanding their ecosystems, and finding new ways to extract value from their initiatives. Open Banking isn’t quite as “emerging” a technology as it was before the pandemic, but we certainly recognise its foundational role for what is to come.

Most of us are now looking to APIs to power a future open data reality where cross-sector data flows could unlock an entirely new approach to banking, finance and life in general.

It was great to talk this year in London and to meet so many far-sighted people eager to share their ideas and latest accomplishments. I look forward to API Days Paris on 14 – 16 December to explore what disruptive mischief APIs will cause across sectors now and in the future.