What many don’t know is that Germany was something of an open banking pioneer. The country developed the Home Banking Computer Interface (HBCI), an open standard for customer self-service machines and e-banking, which launched in 1998. HBCI later evolved to include screen scraping technology to what became known as Sofort, the German online payments firm acquired by Klarna in 2013.
Germany is a country known for its tradition and conservative stance when it comes to its banking status. Things are changing though as according to a recent McKinsey whitepaper, “German banking returns to the playing field”, two out of three German banking executives believe that radical changes are required in the industry.
Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe is seen by many as the guiding light of the unlimited potential of open banking. The German Savings Bank Finance Group launched Wallis, a central API portal that enables the collaborative development of innovative services and new business models for partners and fintechs found in the bank’s ecosystem. The portal has also been granted a BaFin licence, which legitimises their activities and keeps them in line with the current regulation.
According to a whitepaper by Mastercard titled “Open Banking in Germany Part I: Germany is ready for the Open Banking revolution”, we should expect a rapid evolution of open Banking-based use cases in Germany over the next 12-18 months as functional improvements in the performance of APIs facilitate go-to-market solutions.