As financial services space continues to get disrupted by fintech startups in India, traditional financial institutions like banks have also been trying to step up their tech game. One such attempt now comes from India’s second largest bank by assets, ICICI Bank.

India’s largest private sector bank and the second largest bank overall, ICICI Bank, today announced the launch of a unique API Banking portal, consisting the maximum number of virtual APIs put together by any Indian bank. The portal consists of 250 APIs which bank’s partners can use to co-create banking applications.

Usually, technical integrations with traditional banks take a hell lot of time. Apart from the sheer technical complexity involved, the multi-layer approval processes delay the entire development cycle by months. By making these APIs available on a one-stop portal, ICICI Bank aims to enable “partner companies to co- create innovative customer solutions in a frictionless manner and in a fraction of time usually taken for such integration”. Now whether that fructifies, only time will tell. Nevertheless, this is a welcome initiative.

The APIs are available across an array of categories including payments & collections like IMPS, UPI payment/collection, accounts & deposits and cards & loans. After testing the solution on the sandbox environment, developers can upgrade to the UAT environment for end to end real-time testing, post signing an NDA with the Bank. Additionally, the portal incorporates a detailed workflow for conveniently moving the API solution to the final production stage, thereby eliminating the hassles of manual to and fro.

Talking about the launch, Anup Bagchi, ICICI Bank’s executive director, said, “We believe that the ‘ICICI Bank API Banking Portal’, will help foster rapid innovation and co-creation with partner. It will also boost productivity for businesses, as they can now partner with us in a short span of time ranging from just a few weeks to few days as compared to the few months taken earlier.” Bagchi further mentioned that “hundreds” of devs are already using the portal to co-create applications.

India’s financial services sector has seen a rapid technology infusion rate off late. But almost all of that has come via startups, primarily operating in digital payments, digital credit facilities, open banking platforms etc. Traditional banks on the other hand have largely relied on outsourced products from India’s IT majors, thus limiting scope of innovation. While ICICI’s API portal launch is a welcome step, there continues to be a strong need for more banks to partner with fintechs and startups, for a mutually beneficial growth of the sector.