Digital Rails Newsletter
The latest on open APIs for financial inclusion

Digital Rails is a semi-regular newsletter created to help digital financial services providers, FinTechs and start-ups keep up with the latest news, resources and events related to open APIs for financial inclusion. Please pass this newsletter on to colleagues who may be interested in subscribing.
MTN Uganda Launches Open APIs and Developer Portal

Uganda's largest telco, MTN Uganda, earlier this month opened several APIs. The offering marks the first step in a carefully planned strategy to leverage its mobile money platform to grow its business and promote innovation in Uganda. MTN Uganda is looking at open APIs as a long-term strategy to create a digital financial services ecosystem with innovative new products built by third-party providers using its payments and other APIs.  

"This is an exciting development for the Ugandan startups ecosystem. Innovators will now be able to develop applications that ease the customer experience in terms of mobile money payments," said Elsa Muzzolini, general manager for mobile financial services at MTN Uganda, when launching the new platform. 

Local developers participate in a training session on MTN Uganda's new APIs. Photo: MTN Uganda

Ben Lyon, co-founder and CEO of Hover and a CGAP open API advisory board member, spoke to developers at the MTN Uganda launch. "MTN Uganda has recognized your potential and created a building block, which is the MTN API. It's about your voice, your ideas and the world you wish to create," he said. 

Immediately after the media launch of the new developer portal, MTN Uganda hosted a training session to help developers onboard with the APIs and discuss their potential use in new product ideas.  


What Types of APIs Are Digital Financial Services Providers Opening Around the World?

Check out this CGAP blog post looking at the types of APIs that digital financial services providers are opening and how they are making product prioritization decisions. We map the key API product categories and refer to some emerging approaches that indicate where new types of APIs may be heading.

Open APIs Dashboard Shows Increases in Number of Open APIs Across Africa, Asia, Latin America

The CGAP Open APIs Dashboard shows increased activity across the regions we are tracking: Africa, Asia and Latin America. We are seeing an average quarterly growth rate of 30 percent in the number of API products available and a growth rate of around 15 percent per quarter in the number of companies offering APIs. 

Some of the most recently launched APIs include:

Jenga Credit: Released by Kenya's Equity Bank via its subsidiary Finserv, the Jenga Credit API helps businesses analyze credit scores so that they can decide whether to offer customers loans for their purchases.

MTN Uganda Momo Pay: MTN Uganda's MomoPay API enables businesses to create QR codes that customers can scan to initiate a payment.

WhatsApp Business: WhatsApp has released an API to allow medium and large businesses to communicate with customers, organize payments and product deliveries, and manage customer service requests.

Digital banking service provider Fidor Solutions is creating an API exchange with a marketplace and sandbox for the ASEAN region. The platform will encourage collaboration between FinTechs and banks, accelerate product development and encourage modernization of IT architecture among financial institutions in the region.

Simon Vans-Colina, who is responsible for the open banking APIs at UK challenger bank Monzo, offers his perspective on the costs and benefits of open banking for incumbents. He also discusses the need for harmonization.

FinTechs and banks have urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to be more innovative in designing the country's framework for open banking.

The CEO and cofounder of Novo Payments, a Latin America-based digital financial services provider with payments and customer services APIs, talks about why open banking will transform the market by enabling a new wave of ecosystems to blossom with a range of innovative financial products.

CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is a global partnership of over 30 leading organizations that seek to advance financiala inclusion. CGAP develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funders to enable approaches at scale. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP combines a pragmatic approach to responsible market development with an evidence-based advocacy platform to increase access to the financial services the poor need to improve their lives.