App store for banks in incubation

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is experimenting with an app store for banks. Swift, which is a cooperative shared service, has been offering a payments messaging service to banks for 40 years.

I picked this up in an interview with Swift’s head of innovation.

App stores are seen as a way for communities of organisations to buy pre-approved applications via a cloud. Apple’s App Store is the best known and the government’s app store, which is part of its G-Cloud initiative, is a high profile example.
The government app store plans to give public sector organisations access an online catalogue of applications, some developed by public sector organisations and some by third parties. Contracts will have already been negotiated and the systems will be fit for purpose.

Obviously with it being the public sector with all the spending cuts this might not see the light of day for a while. Especially when they are yet to build the cloud that the app store will sit in.

But financial services companies could achieve it much quicker if the thousands of finance firms that are Swift members decide to go for it. Swift’s innovation team currently has a financial services app store in incubation. If it goes live banks that are members will have access to applications from Swift itself as well as third parties.

This will contain Swift applications and some from other software companies.

But although banks are  known for pioneering IT they are also highly conscious of the fine line between competition and collaboration. As a result the community nature of Swift could be the biggest hurdle.

There have however been suggestions that banks are losing their appetites for in-house software development. If this is the case an app store for banks could come at the right time.

Gareth Lodge, analyst at Celent, says this will probably only work if there are enough tools available for banks to create bespoke versions of software to help them differentiate. He also said that Swift’s cloud has a big advantage over competitors such as Amazon when it comes to continuity. It boasts 99.999% up-time from its launch in the 1970s.

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