November 15, 2019

The Open Bank Project in India

A few months ago I broke up with my cofounder and stopped working on our idea to build a digital credit card service for SMEs in Europe (see my blog post). Even though I find the idea still fascinating I decided to take some time off and started freelancing instead. Freelancing is a great way of working with different teams on different problems and that has many benefits, nevertheless, I see this as an intermediate step before jumping into my next startup.

But in the meantime, I am lucky enough to be able to work with different FinTech startups and support them on their open banking journey. Additionally, I have taken on one “passion project” which is supporting the Open Bank Project (OBP) in their expansion to India. I know the team behind OBP for a few years from various FinTech events as they have been one of the first Open Banking players in Europe. Even though OBP and my previous employer Figo are in the same space, they are not competitors.

The Open Bank Project is an open-source API solution for banks which enables them to offer more than 400 APIs with relatively little effort and resources. The APIs do not cover only access to a bank account but also include KYC, Card, ATMs and a lot more. Clients of the Open Bank Project are Tier 1 banks from around the world incl. HSBC, BNP and SocGen. But an Indian bank isn’t among their customers (yet) and that’s where I am trying to help. As my wife is from Mumbai, we are spending a few weeks per year in Mumbai to visit her family and I am more than happy to make use of the time in India to dive into the local FinTech and banking scene. For me this is an interesting switch for various reasons: doing business in a different country with a different culture is always exciting, however, also helping banks to open up instead of working with startups to connect to banking infrastructure is a totally different angle for me.

Furthermore, India is quite an interesting FinTech market. I remember, when I first came to Mumbai at the end of 2014, I wasn’t very successful in finding many startups or bank activities in this sector. But a lot has changed since then on all different kind of levels.