The financial industry group NACHA is working with dozens of industry stakeholders to create a long-term plan for introducing an API strategy for the ACH network. Thinking of building an API for your industry’s needs? Take notes.
How do you get a highly technical, highly niche industry on the same page so everyone works together?
If you’re NACHA, the association that represents the automated clearinghouse (ACH) network that banks rely upon, you introduce a discussion around application programming interfaces, or APIs. Since early this year, NACHA has been working on a collaborative approach to standardize how the industry allows technology to interface with the network. The association launched its API efforts in earnest with Accenture in February.
It’s certainly an interesting approach, but it is not necessarily easy to get everyone on the same page. The association had been researching the strategy for months before finally getting it off the ground. In comments to PYMNTS.com, NACHA Managing Director of Network Development George Throckmorton noted that the association had to work closely with numerous industry stakeholders because of the existing agreements around the ACH system.
“When you think about standardization of APIs, first and foremost, it’s really around the solid, consistent agreements made between participants,” Throckmorton told the website in March. “API technology is not new, but if you have bilateral agreements, it’s very hard to scale.”
That led to the creation of a working group this past spring, with the goal of creating basic standards for the banking industry to follow. A recent meeting summary [PDF] released by the group shows that representatives of nearly three dozen organizations and companies—including household names like Visa, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase—broke down the basic use cases for such a tool, along with starting points for building out the programmatic tool.
The group is still knee-deep in the decision-making process, with two more meetings already scheduled for August and October.
“API standardization can have a transformative effect on the financial services industry,” Throckmorton, the committee lead, said in a news release. “Our work is really just beginning, but we are excited to share the outcomes of the inaugural meeting. We look forward to keeping the industry informed of progress as we move forward.”