First Tech Federal Credit Union: Partnering for innovation with APIs

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Editor’s Note: Today we hear from Paul Benjamin, Director of Product Management at First Tech Federal Credit Union. This financial institution has set out to partner with a broad range of fintechs to offer new apps to its membership base, and APIs are key to making this happen.

First Tech Federal Credit Union is the sixth largest credit union in the United States. Our membership base is about half a million people strong and we have an asset base upwards of $12 billion. We work with many of the world’s leading technology companies, and our membership is made up of their employees. This means our customers are tech savvy, interested in the latest fintech innovations, and definitely inclined to try new products and services–in fact, they’ve come to expect them.

Our participation in an API-driven economy hinges on providing our members with new online and mobile offerings that combine a variety of financial services provided not only by us, but by an ecosystem of partners. These services might include account alerts, credit card account management controls, account aggregation, and loan financing. Sharpening our competitive edge and staying relevant requires us to step out of our traditional banking shell and explore mutually beneficial partnerships with fintechs and other companies in adjacent markets.

Over the past few years we’ve seen how companies, not just in the financial sector but across all industries, have adopted API-driven models and how that has helped them fuel further growth. First Tech has had an API gateway to serve our internal technology needs but, given our need to enable ecosystem partnerships, we needed a more mature and sophisticated API management platform that could enable us to expose and manage public APIs. We hope to introduce new products and services as well as new channels around existing products and services.

Google Cloud’s Apigee API Platform fit the bill for several reasons. The top two? Security and scalability.

As a financial institution, securing our members’ data is always our top priority and we needed a proven product that gave us the tools to enforce our desired control and security policies.

In terms of scalability, given that First Tech is a not-for-profit, community-based financial institution, we were looking for a solution that would allow us to scale as cost effectively as possible as we build out our API platform over the next five years. The growing range of partners we’ll be working with will leverage the same APIs. As a result, having a formal platform will enable consistency, security, and proper support for the partners that build on our APIs–and that, in turn, will have a direct impact on our ability to grow our membership base.

We’re still early in our usage of our new API management platform, but the agility, speed, and control we’ve seen so far is impressive. Other Apigee features that are already proving to be key include monitoring, analytics, and reporting, as they let us not only track and analyze the services we offer, but ensure that we are able to respond and scale to meet the needs of our partners’ business models. As we delve further into our implementation, we look forward to exploring additional functionality, such as API rate limits and monetization.

Once we get past the initial implementation phase, we want to enable more enhanced monitoring to gain valuable insights. We foresee using analytics to help us monitor activity and API security, but also to monitor associated infrastructure costs for serving these APIs. We’re viewing the Apigee partnership not as a one-off initiative but something that is foundational for our long-term vision.

To learn more about API management on Google Cloud, visit our Apigee page.

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