Singapore firms lead the pack in Asia-Pacific when it comes to adopting Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to keep up to pace with an increasingly digital world, a new survey showed.

Forty per cent of businesses in the Republic are leveraging on APIs for various purposes including incorporating third-party services, building web-based and mobile applications, and enabling third-party developers, according to a poll conducted by US-based software corporation CA Technologies and IT research firm Freeform Dynamics.

This puts Singapore ahead of its Asian peers such as India (35 per cent) and China (32 per cent), and above the global average of 34 per cent.

“The recognition that APIs are the foundation of today’s application economy, where software is at the centre of every business, is gaining traction in Singapore,” said Vic Mankotia, vice president of security and API management for Asia-Pacific and Japan at CA Technologies.

APIs – defined as sets of routines and protocols that specify how one software application interacts with another – have been increasingly embraced by companies around the world as a key to meeting the requirements of the digital age. In February, Visa unveiled a suite of open APIs which enabled external developers to connect third-party applications into its credit card transaction systems.

While factors like government support have fostered a fertile ground for the use of APIs in Singapore, there is still more that companies can do to improve on the implementation of their API strategies.

For instance, 34 per cent of Singapore companies have adequate infrastructure in place, while only a quarter of businesses polled indicated that they have found the right suppliers to provide skills and advice.

In terms of recruiting developers and defining a developer community support program, only 25 and 40 per cent of firms, respectively, have these strategies in place.

Across the industries, the likes of telecommunications, consumer electronics, retail and financial services were among the sectors that were most well-prepared to leverage on APIs, data provided by CA Technologies showed.


Recently, the topic of APIs has been given renewed attention after the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) identified them as the necessary foundation for financial innovation.

At a two-day conference held in March, senior officials described APIs as a "critical gateway" for local financial services to collaborate with financial technology (FinTech) start-ups, and announced plans to make data on its website available in a format that can be used readily with third-party applications.

When asked about the MAS’ plan to lead by example, CA Technologies’ Mr Mankotia described it as a “great step in the right direction”. While other central banks in the region such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) have called for support for the fintech industry, none have been “as detailed as the MAS”, he added.

“What the MAS has done is to encourage banks and the fintech sector to take a look at where, what and how to enable users to have a more enriched digital experience so I think that is a great step in the right direction,” the vice president said.

While the MAS’ call is only targeted at banks, Mr Mankotia believes that will eventually have a spillover effect on the local ecosystem.

“Banks are usually the first because you can do a simulation of a transaction, but that transaction can later on become healthcare records which will allow patients to see doctors without having to carry their X-rays around. Transport departments will learn from that and drivers’ licenses will be electronically enabled, which is the case now in New South Wales. This is a step in the right direction which many other industries will soon follow.” 

Source: Channel News Asia (published on April 29 2016)


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