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A little competition, even in business, can be a good thing. In today’s changing financial services industry landscape, there are new and changing reasons why providers and banks should be aware of the competition and put their best foot forward. These include new regulations and increased demands by customers to be agile and versatile, especially when it comes to digital banking. In order to have a leg up over the competition, banks should approach new opportunities and the challenges that regulations bring head on with strategic focus, open source, and agile integration.

In today’s modern, digital world,customers can bank on their smart phones, tablets, computers, smart watches, digital assistants – anything that’s untethered and online. And it’s less about who delivers banking services than what the services are. Note to financial firms: expect competition. Amazon is in talks with big banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Capital One, about the possibility of creating an Amazon-branded checking account.

Banks don’t just have to worry about Amazon. Competition is heating up from established technology companies and also financial technology startups - more than 10,000 as of 2017. And the number of channels continues to grow when you add the internet of things (IoT) and bots to websites and already-popular apps. It is becoming difficult for a single bank to own and control all of these channels, while also offering a consistent user experience. And key regulations such as the Payment Service Directive 2 (PSD2) in Europe, a bill submitted by Financial Service Agency of Japan (JFSA) to amend Japan’s Banking Act, and the Open Banking regimes in both Australia and the United Kingdom, among others add another layer of complexity. It’s estimated that from 2011 to 2017, the number of regulations a bank needs to track on a global level more than tripled.

There are options to help mitigate the complexities of a constantly shifting regulatory landscape. Sure, one can play ostrich and do the bare minimum (not advisable), but a better strategy might be to adopt the concepts of a “programmable bank.”

To become a programmable bank, start by adopting an open source foundation to enable the specific benefits open source can bring. These can include greater speed, innovation, transparency, stronger security, and collaboration with a vibrant community of contributors around the world.

Follow an agile approach to data and service integration, which we refer to as agile integration. Agile integration is an architectural approach centered around application programming interfaces (APIs) and API management. Comprised primarily of three pillars—distributed integration to provide greater flexibility, containerization for scalability, and managed APIs for speed—agile integration can help create a reference architecture banks can not only use to comply with government regulations for openness but more importantly craft their banking platform business model of the future. Without an agile back-end framework in place, banks may not be as flexible and able to handle change as it comes up.

Open APIs are critical components of a programmable bank, and a majority of banks believe in them. According to a recent IDC InfoBrief, Beyond Banking Through Open APIs, 83 percent of banks view open APIs as a way to modernize their legacy systems, improve customer experiences, address regulatory compliance requirements, and eventually break into new business models.

At Red Hat, we believe that the programmable bank of the future provides data and services through an open but controlled platform, which can enable an ecosystem of partners and customers to innovate and create value on top.

To ensure your IT infrastructure can keep up with fast-moving business demands, we at Red Hat recommend you consider these three technologies that underpin an agile IT and work together to create competitive advantage. For a more comprehensive viewpoint on staying competitive in today’s market and beyond, take a look at how Red Hat is supporting the financial services industry.

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