Frequently Asked Questions

ASIG Background

Q. What/Who is ASIG?
A. The API Standardization Industry Group (ASIG) is a diverse group of organizations and individuals working to support advancement and use of standardized APIs within the U.S. financial services industry. 

The Group is made up of leaders from financial institutions, fintechs, businesses, service providers, standards organizations and others, all of whom have a desire to further efforts to standardize the use of APIs in the U.S. The API Standardization Industry Group is sponsored by NACHA’s Payments Innovation Alliance. For more information or to join, click here
 
Q. Why and when was ASIG formed? 
A. Financial Institutions, fintechs, and regulatory bodies across the globe have recently embraced the standardization of APIs to securely transfer information, and deliver financial services safely and efficiently to consumers and businesses. The U.S. has seen a significant increase in the use of APIs to support consumer and business needs, but is just now understanding the value of standardization. Also recognized by businesses is the need for collaboration to develop standards that are widely adopted and will move the industry forward.

In recognition of the increased interest and the role API standardization can play in enhancing support of the payments and business needs of the U.S. financial services industry, NACHA formed the API Standardization Industry Group in the spring of 2017.
 
Q. What impact will ASIG have in the financial services industry? 
A. API Standardization can have a transformative effect on the financial services industry. With the development of a standards framework and release of the “API Playbook,” the API Standardization Industry Group can play a key role in helping to: (1) improve the safety and transparency of transactions, (2) automate and increase speed of processes and communications, (3) promote efficiencies, effectiveness and reach for all stakeholders, and (4) enhance support of payments innovations. 
 
Q. What is the role of NACHA/Payments Innovation Alliance in ASIG?
A. As a nonprofit trade association and membership organization, NACHA helps facilitate inclusive dialogue and engagement of diverse stakeholders. Through membership programs, such as the Payments Innovation Alliance, which works to advance domestic and global payments, NACHA brings together diverse stakeholders to support payments innovation through discussion, debate, education, networking and special projects.
 
Given the mission of the API Standardization Industry Group, which cannot be accomplished without input and support from a variety of industry stakeholders, it is fitting that the Payments Innovation Alliance sponsor the effort to ensure its success. As such, all API Standardization Industry Group participants are also expected to become members of the Payments Innovation Alliance. For more information or to join, click here

Q. Why is API standardization important for the financial services industry?
A. Many payments providers and leading financial services firms are using APIs to broaden and enhance services, increase automation, and strengthen security. But without standardization, these businesses and financial services firms cannot reap the full potential of APIs outside of their organizations.
 
API standardization can help improve the safety and transparency of transactions, automate and increase speed of processes and communications, promote efficiencies, effectiveness and reach for all stakeholders, and enhance support of payments innovations. In an environment where speed, automation, security and reach are key drivers for business decisions, API standardization is critical to helping financial services firms and financial institutions work more closely together to advance the industry.

Q. What is ASIG’s current mission?  
The current mission of the API Standardization Industry Group is to support advancement and use of standardized APIs within the U.S. financial services industry.  To that end, the Group is developing a standards framework, or “API Playbook” for the financial services industry that will:  (1) improve the safety and transparency of transactions, (2) automate and increase speed of processes and communications, (3) promote efficiencies, effectiveness and reach for all stakeholders, and (4) enhance support of payments innovations. 


ASIG Membership/Participation

Q. What types of organizations participate in ASIG?
Participation in the API Standardization Industry Group is open to all industry stakeholders. Current organizational participants include financial institutions, businesses, fintechs, service providers, standards organizations, and other industry stakeholders interested in transforming the financial services industry through API standardization. For more information or to join, click here.

Q. How is ASIG currently organized?
The API Standardization Industry Group was founded largely by members of the Payments Innovation Alliance. NACHA serves as convener and provides leadership for the self-directed Group. ASIG members lead and participate in various work groups in the development of the API Playbook. 
 
Q. Who are currently active members of ASIG?
Currently, the API Standardization Industry Group has a diverse array of industry stakeholders as participants with more than 100 individuals from more than 80 different leading fintechs, corporations, financial institutions, service providers, standards groups and other organizations with expertise in strategy, products, technology, marketing, communications and operations. The membership will continue to grow and evolve as work efforts continue to be defined and progress.
 
Q. What are the requirements for an organization to join ASIG?
A. Participation in the API Standardization Industry Group is open to any payments industry stakeholder interested in transforming the financial services industry through API standardization. Leaders from financial institutions, businesses, fintechs, service providers, and standards organizations are all welcome to join the API Standardization Industry Group.
 
Q. Is there a limit to the number of participants from a single organization?
No. There is currently no limit to the number of participants that can join the API Standardization Industry Group from any single organization. In fact, we encourage participation from multiple people within an organization to enhance the dialogue and better support the efforts of the Group.
 
Q. How can my organization find out about the work that ASIG has done and plans to do?
Updates about the API Standardization Industry Group are shared on a regular basis and can be found by clicking here. Interested parties can also sign up for email updates by clicking here.  
 
Q. What is the expectation of member participation in ASIG?
API Standardization Industry Group participants can have as much or as little involvement in the Group as they wish. All Group participants are encouraged to attend meetings and contribute as they are able. The Group holds both in-person and virtual meetings to advance the work on APIs. The frequency and timing are  dependent upon the work plans defined by the working groups. 
 
Q. How is ASIG working with other standards groups?
The goal of the API Standardization Industry Group is to work with existing standards bodies and leverage their expertise. Several standards groups are active in and support the efforts of the API Standardization Industry Group.  The API Playbook that is under development is inclusive of input from all industry stakeholders in the U.S. and -- whenever possible -- leverages global standards efforts such as ISO 20022. 


ASIG Deliverables

Q. ​What APIs will ASIG develop? 
The API Standardization Industry Group currently plans to develop 16 APIs covering Payment Access, Fraud and Risk Reduction, and Data Sharing.  The scope of each of these is as follows:  

  • The Payment Access APIs include real-time payment messaging, bank enrollment of ACH originators, human-to-machine APIs, transaction status and interoperability between payment networks. 
  • The Fraud and Risk Reduction APIs include APIs to get bank contact information, federal and state tax payment receiver account validation, verification of identity of payers and payees, account validation, account token requests, and industry notification of account closure. 
  • The Data Access APIs include account history, account balance, single sign on, support for credit decisioning, and marketing information.

The Group will continue to consider the evolving needs of the industry and evaluate and develop additional APIs as deemed appropriate.

Q. ​How were the APIs chosen?
The initial 16 APIs chosen for development by the API Standardization Industry Group were rigorously evaluated against a set of criteria that considered the problem/opportunity the API would address; the stakeholders impacted; the value/risk of the API to the user; and the assumptions necessary for the API, among other considerations. Ultimately, the Group deemed the 16 APIs selected as those that would provide the most value and impact to the financial services industry in the short term.
 
The Group will continue to consider the evolving needs of the industry and evaluate and develop additional APIs as deemed appropriate.

Q.What are the plans to develop additional APIs?
The API Standardization Industry Group has identified the first 16 APIs it will develop, which will serve as a starting point for additional APIs.  The Group will continue to consider the needs and opportunities of the industry and evaluate and develop additional APIs as deemed appropriate. 
 
Q.What business processes may be performed with these APIs – initially? In the future?
Each of the 16 APIs will perform different business processes to support the needs of the industry. See fact sheet to review specific business process performed by each API. The API Standardization Industry Group will continue to consider the needs and opportunities of the industry and refine processes as appropriate.  

Q. Will ASIG publish specifications? 
Yes.  The API Standardization Industry Group will outline API specifications, documentation and process flows in the API Playbook, which will be open to the industry for use.

Q. Will ASIG publish the actual APIs? ​
Yes.  The API Standardization Industry Group does intend to publish standardized APIs and provide a testing sandbox so that developers can test and certify their own API software.

Q.What users do we envision for these APIs? (retail, wholesale, bank-to-bBank, bank-to-client, other)
Each of the 16 APIs will perform different business processes to support the needs of the industry, and as such will support different financial services industry stakeholders. See fact sheet to review specific business processes currently performed by each API and the disparate industry stakeholders supported and/or impacted. 


API Playbook

Q. What is the “Playbook”?
The API Playbook will serve as a guiding document for the financial services industry, outlining the value of API standardization, the opportunities and benefits of adoption, and providing the use cases and actual APIs, as well as the governance and standards to support adoption, consistency and security. Potential components of the Playbook include the following:

  • Vision: An overview of what the Playbook is and the importance of and opportunities provided by API standardization, and the value proposition/business case for API standardization and adoption
  • Governance: Information around service and usage guidelines, along with participant roles and responsibilities
  • API Library: Specific use cases and corresponding APIs
  • Tech Standards: Technical resources for formats and API specifications
  • Security: Information on provisioning, permissions, and minimum security requirements and standards
  • Communications: Updates and information about the API standardization effort and educational resources
  • Legal: The terms of use and any necessary disclaimers
  • Delivery Channel: Information on how to use the Playbook and resources for feedback and testing
  • Contributors and Users: A directory of those who contributed to development of the Playbook and users of the Playbook
  • Glossary: A listing of important business and technical terms, with corresponding definitions

Q. How can my organization benefit from the Playbook?
The API Playbook will serve as a guiding document for the financial services industry, outlining the value of API standardization, the opportunities and benefits of adoption, and providing the use cases and actual APIs, as well as the governance and standards to support adoption, consistency and security. With the Playbook, organizations can use the common set of standards and rules to create greater interoperability and efficiencies to more effectively meeting the payments and business goals of their organizations. Additionally, the common set of standards and rules the Playbook provides will support and encourage increased adoption of APIs, amplifying the benefits API standardization can have on individual organizations and the financial services industry as a whole.

Q.When will the Playbook be published?
Elements of the API Playbook, such as the actual use cases are available now. Other components for the developer community, such as specifications, documentation and process flow will be available in the first quarter of 2018. As additional APIs are developed, and needs and opportunities are identified, updates and refinements will be made to the API Playbook to support the evolving needs of the industry.

Q. Where will the Playbook be published?​
The API Playbook will live in a virtual environment and will be accessible from the ASIG website at www.nacha.org/api-standardization-industry-group.

Return to the API Standardization Industry Group web page by clicking here.