A view of two smartphones at the cattle and livestock market in the Lafiabougou district of Bamako, Mali. CGAP Photo (Nicolas Réméné via Communication for Development Ltd.) CGAP Photo (Nicolas Réméné via Communication for Development Ltd.)
Getting started with an open API initiative

When CGAP asked digital finance executives about the number one piece of advice they would give to another provider getting started with open APIs, Hover CEO Ben Lyon emphasized that APIs are not just a product, they’re a “standalone business.” Open APIs can benefit providers in many ways, as documented in CGAP’s case studies, but successfully implementing a API initiative requires a business strategy, new company processes, and investments in technology and customer engagement. CGAP created the resources below to help providers in emerging markets better understand and navigate key considerations when implementing an open API initiative.

What are the key elements of an open API strategy?

While it is important to take a strategic approach to open APIs, you do not need a full-fledged strategy in place to get started. It is better to start small, offering a limited number of APIs to existing partners, learning about developers’ needs, and testing business models, before evolving toward a full open strategy.

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Get started with your open API strategy by following the tips in this 4-page guide, including five actions every digital financial services provider should take early in its API journey.

What Advice Would You Give Someone Just Starting with APIs?

In this 3-minute video, leaders from financial services providers around the world share their number one piece of advice on getting started with open APIs.
How should open API products be priced?

Pricing is a key component of any open API strategy. A pricing strategy should do at least three things: (1) help the financial services provider achieve specific business objectives, (2) generate business value for each target API consumer segment, and (3) align with market expectations and norms for pricing.

Photo by Hoang Long Ly, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest

Learn how to devise an API pricing strategy that balances your need to achieve a return on investment with the needs of third parties who are trying to grow their own businesses by leveraging your APIs.
How can I select the right technology stack for open APIs?

One of the most important factors in implementing an open API strategy is selecting the right technology solutions. A common mistake among business leaders is to focus on the business strategy without engaging on key technology decisions. This can lead to technically unreliable solutions, the need for ongoing technical support to third-party API consumers, or a need to manage financial risk when things go wrong.

Slide Deck

Technology Building Blocks for an Open API Strategy

This slide deck is designed to help business leaders who are not IT specialists learn how to make informed decisions about the technologies supporting their open APIs.

Here are three design principles that financial services providers should keep in mind when making technology decisions related to their open API products.
How can I entice third-party developers to use my open APIs in innovative products?

When launching open APIs, do not assume that developers will automatically start using them. To ensure developers are aware of your APIs and drive usage, providers need a go-to-market strategy. It is also important to create resources that make it easy for developers to see the potential applications of the APIs and to start using them. Such resources include an online developer portal and supporting documentation.

Slide Deck

How to Engage Third Parties with Your Open APIs

This slide deck describes different third-party segments a provider may want to target with APIs and introduces engagement strategies and activities that may be effective with these segments.

Hackathons aren't the only way for a digital financial services provider to engage third parties with its open APIs.

Here are some practical tips on how digital financial services providers can build a first-rate developer portal for their APIs.

What is the Most Effective Way to Drive Usage of Open APIs?

In this 4-minute video, digital financial services providers from several markets offer their advice on how to engage developers and drive usage of open APIs.