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Oracle’s Aubrey Hawes on Open Banking and ecosystem building

  • Oracle's open APIs have structured an open banking platform for banks and fintech firms.
  • The company's head of sales consulting joins us to talk about Oracle's work in ecosystem building.
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Oracle’s Aubrey Hawes on Open Banking and ecosystem building

Today’s guest is Aubrey Hawes who leads Oracle’s sales consulting team around its banking products, including open banking and core banking monetization. The software provider began early, thinking about the move to open banking and charting a path to open APIs. The company today has 2000 APIs used by hundreds of the largest banks in the world. Oracle also encourages ecosystem building on its platform, including some of the top fintech firms as well as emerging new players.

We discuss Oracle’s work in financial services and the challenges and opportunities its clients face. Aubrey describes the tech firm’s approach to open banking and the various initiatives Oracle undertakes to drive the growth and depth of its fintech ecosystem.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Oracle’s move to open APIs

Oracle’s been in the banking vertical software space for over ten years. We made several acquisitions — the largest was i-flex that built core banking applications it deployed around the globe. Based on that deep understanding of financial services, we started to see the opening up of the banking ecosystem and a reduction in costs in the move to the cloud. Not everyone needs to buy a Sun Microsystem server. Now, you can create creative solutions with low-cost cloud computing.

We saw an opportunity to define APIs that allow new startups to co-exist and integrate with banks. There’s a symbiotic relationship between banks and fintechs that help institutions reach new markets and new customers. They are complementary. That drove us to develop a robust set of APIs.

Oracle’s connectivity and the fintech community

We started our work around open APIs around five years ago. When we launched, we probably had about 250 APIs. Now, we have over 1600 APIs and expanded our capabilities beyond consumer retail to the corporate side of the bank. As we released the APIs, we’ve shared them with our existing installed base.

We’ve also run hackathons where we brought in fintechs to build on top of these APIs to help their fintech ideas come to life with real banking data. The most recent one we did was at SIBOS in the UK where we started to pull in some unique companies. One was Bankifi, which gives microbusinesses the ability to do accounts payable and payments as a value-added service on top of a deposit account at the bank. Personetics is an AI chatbot engine which requires a robust set of services it can call to get answers.

Building an ecosystem

Oracle for Startups is our program which gives startups resources to develop on Oracle. We’re seeing an explosion of smaller startups and our program incentivizes them to develop on our platform in a cost-effective way. In fintech, we work to nurture startups in our industry. Why wouldn’t fintechs want to partner with us? We have over 500 core banking deployments around the globe.

Banks get value out of access

The largest banks typically have their own innovation programs and curate their own sets of fintech companies they want to collaborate with. If you’re not a large bank, you probably don’t have the resources to do that. The fact that Oracle has a set of fintechs that work with our open APIs gives these banks a ready set of technologies that they can plug in around chatbots or identity verification or KYC. We’ve mapped the different functional types of fintechs we can work with so we could go provide these to our banking clients around their needs.

A good example of our work in the space is KeyBank. It’s a top 20 US bank, a super-regional headquartered out of Cleveland. We started with digitization of their self service strategy. The bank is also branding its work in financial wellness, the same way we care about our physical health. To do that, they needed to modernize their experiences which included a couple of acquisitions, including HelloWallet.

Charlotte as a fintech hub

Charlotte is the number two banking hub in the U.S. Bank of America is headquartered here and Truist, the merged entity of SunTrust and BB&T, will be based here as well. Fifth Third, Wells Fargo, Ally, MetLife, Aflac Ventures, AIG — all have large presences here to access the local talent.

Charlotte launched the non-profit Carolina Fintech Hub which has the backing of banks, EY, and Oracle. There’s a community effort to look at attracting more fintech to Charlotte — we already have a few like Avid Exchange and LendingTree. We want to attract talent to the area. We’ve also launched a workforce initiative to address economic mobility in the city. The fintech hub is looking at getting talent that has aptitude and giving them formal training to get work in the industry.

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