The Open Bank Project

“this means something incredibly powerful: the holder of a bank account managed with OBP-compatible software will be able (if he or she decides so, of course) to let everybody, or just some selected individuals, see some transactions on that bank account automatically, in real time from the Internet.”

Marco Fioretti has interviewed Simon Redfern, founder of the Open Bank Project:

“Simon Redfern: About 5 years ago I started hearing and thinking (more) about corruption. I can’t remember exactly what made me conceive of it – and it wasn’t a formal process – but at some point I suddenly had the idea of a new type of bank where all the accounts were open for the public to see. This was the original idea and since then it has matured.

At first I thought I should keep the idea secret and think up some kind of business plan to take advantage of the concept so I didn’t talk to many people about it. However, the people I did speak to responded energetically – and a good friend of mine from the UK suggested a “protocol” so that the idea could be applied to other banks too.

Then in 2008, while working in Athens, I noticed lots of construction sites with European Union (EU) boards proclaiming “Funded by the EU”. When I mentioned this enthusiastically to somebody she said: “Yes but Simon, there’s so much corruption here!”. So, this got me thinking more about realising the project – and then of course, two years later, Greece collapsed.

By 2010, I had also come to know APIs better. My company TESOBE had built them for our internal projects and; besides, it was easy for me to see that if Web services such as Flickr and Twitter have grown so well it is also because of APIs. The reasons is that APIs massively extend the IT team of a company, because they let external developers use the companies data and services to build innovative applications creatively and independently.

At the same time, I have been understanding more about the silent revolution that is “Open Source” and I realised that the issues concerned (public money, corruption etc) are too important and require too wide an adoption to not involve the Open Source community.

Corruption was the catalyst for the project – but the Open Bank Project is definitely also about better, simpler, cooler banking, business and financial apps and a more open philosophy towards software development and business too.”

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