Why Aiia: Quality over quantity

A desire to do what’s right. Bring positive change to society. Challenge the industry.

When we started our open banking journey more than 10 years ago – before open banking even existed – those were some of the reasons why we established our organisation. And they still are today. 

To deliver on those promises – and to build an open banking platform that simply works – we’ve always focused on three building principles to create an open banking platform that’s second-to-none:  

  • Quality over quantity 
  • Privacy by design
  • Secure and compliant

In the first part of our Why Aiia series, we’ll go through our first building principle, which is all about why quality over quantity is essential in open banking. 

 

Open banking without obstacles 

Put simply, quality over quantity pretty much tells the story of who we are as a company, as well as our position in the open banking space. It means that we have a product that actually works – and that’s the essence of Aiia. 

To create that quality, we took an early decision to work with the industry to make sure we create quality connections in a market before we actually say we’re live in a market. To elaborate on that, our Co-founder, Gudmundur Hreidarsson, explains: 

“Quality over quantity is the principle that makes sure open banking works without any obstacles. It means we don’t blitzscale and say we’re live with open banking in more than 20 countries if we only have a few connections in those markets. Instead, we make sure we cover a market fully with high-quality connections; that’s why we call ourselves craftsmen of open banking,” he says. 

 

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To emphasise why it’s important to focus on quality over quantity, our other Co-founder and CEO, Rune Mai, tells an analogy: 

“Imagine if we were a telecommunications company building out the relevant networks and infrastructure. Say we moved to Germany and provided only 60 percent of the country with the requisite communications cabling. The consequence would be that in more or less every second German city I wouldn’t be able to use my phone." 

 

Craftsmen of open banking 

According to both Rune and Gudmundur, quality over quantity has also been the hardest challenge to face because of the extreme amount of data connections in Europe, as well as the high level of confusement when it comes to interpreting open banking regulations. Although that part alone has required a lot of time and resources, it’s been impossible to avoid, says Rune: 

“There’s no doubt that we’ve spent thousands of man-hours ensuring that banks are compliant by examining if their PSD2 interfaces expose the same data as is available in their own mobile banks. We’re in constant dialogue with the FSA and financial institutions about our analyses and interpretations. In reality, it probably should’ve been the FSA that did that, but we’ve taken on that role to make sure our open banking platform has that second-to-none quality we’re proud of,” he explains and continues:

 

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“You might have a thousand APIs on your open banking platform, but if you don’t cover any market fully, what value do those APIs have for the companies implementing open banking solutions? We’ve spent a significant period of time in the Nordic markets ensuring that all the banks’ interfaces were matured and of productive value to the end user.”

 

We've expanded to the rest of Europe 

Being mindful of what it takes to have a truly solid foothold in the markets we operate in, we've expanded to the rest of Europe with the same maturity that we’ve built in the Nordics.

To ensure that we've added actual value to our customers in these new markets, we’ve focused on building a high-quality platform that covers new markets fully to ensure everyone can use our product, Rune explains: 

 

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“We could easily onboard all nine banks in the UK within two months, or the entire French market in one month, but that wouldn’t be a valuable strategy in the long term. We realised early on that if we stretch out too fast and only onboard a couple of major banks on our API platform in each country, we’ll spread ourselves too thin.”

In the next part of our series, we’ll explore how our second building principle privacy by design makes sure financial data is never used or shared in any way it wasn’t intended to.