How and why being Open can kill Freedom

PSD2 can kill Freedom

The Internet tends to create monopolies. Stronger and faster than ever before. On the one hand side this is due to the given and possible transparency. Everybody can very easily and fast detect the best offer, the best place, solution etc. But on the other hand side it’s because of the rise of the many open, easy-to-use and standard technologies, especially in the area of APIs. Simple and usually at no cost one can interface with all service providers of a given domain and forces the service provider to stay in the background. The customer only sees the aggregator, the platform provider, the intermediator. And suddenly everybody shops at Amazon, buys insurance at Check24 and electricity at Verivox. Today it’s still possible for a service provider to refuse participation in these ecosystems although, from a business perspective, it’s nearly impossible to ignore these monopolistic ecosystem structures.

PSD2 can kill Diversity

Now with the implementation of the PSD2 directive suddenly a new trend enters the Internet stage: The regulator forces banks via PSD2  to provide Open APIs to everybody who wants access. In no other business area we have seen a trend like this yet. And although I love Open APIs and am a massive fan of since HBCI in the 90ties either I also see a new danger that maybe only one or two will benefit from PSD2-  the Open API intended diversity achieves exactly the opposite then. This is why we, as banks, have to do the following:
  1. The bank needs to keep the customer interface by keeping the identity via own identity processes and means. A Bank ID provided by YES or similar services. We have to protect us from loosing the ‘key to customer door’
  2. We have to monetise our APIs (with value added services). Only the very basic information should be available for free for TPPs. The ecosystems shouldn’t get the customer interface for free. It’s the customer data. Yes. But we paid for making it our customer – maybe a one-time-fee for taking over would be a fair compromise and a first step
A regulation with a very positive motivation can, if done wrong, create exactly the opposite:  Internet monopolies which will dictate the rules for service providers and customers.