Hidden Figures, in cinemas now, is the story of Katherine G Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three female African-American mathematicians, or “computers”, working behind the scenes at Nasa in the 1960s. The story is set in Virginia where racial segregation meant that black and white Americans working for Nasa had to use different entrances, different toilets and different coffee pots.
Despite all this, Katherine triumphed as the human “computer”who masterminded the launch of John Glenn into orbit during the American-Russian space race. It was her mathematical computing and algorithms, scratched out on a massive blackboard that ensured the correct trajectory that would ultimately see Glenn into orbit and safely home again.
Katherine’s calculations and algorithms literally changed the world and moved the 1960s understanding of the world into a new dimension.
A New Dimension of Banking
Exciting stuff? Yes it is but what I couldn’t help but think on the way home from the cinema was that here at Castlight we have developed algorithms and technology that will have a seismic impact on the world about us too. Our application programme interface (API) is going to move the world of banking into a new dimension.
And the new dimension is “open banking”. Open banking is effectively being propelled by two pieces of regulation – the Competition and Market Authority’s recommendations and the new European PSD2 (Revised Payment Service Directive).
Simply put, the open banking regulation requires financial institutions to:
Make it possible for people to share their financial transactional data with third parties on-line
Allow third parties to take payments directly from an individual’s account as a bank transfer (instead of taking a credit or debit payment)
Publicise their product information and customer satisfaction ratings so that customers can make straightforward comparisons with other providers
And in order to do all this, financial institutions will need new technology – an API that will allow banks and other businesses to securely share data.
Castlight has developed this very platform and organisations both in the UK and globally are already using it to get ready for open banking which must come into effect by the end of 2017.
The Open Banking Era
This new era of open banking will be transformative for customers who will have greater control and flexibility over their bank accounts and who will also benefit from increased competition in the market and more innovation from providers. And just in the same way that consumers are used to comparing energy providers and phone companies and then taking their business to where they are best served, they will be able to make similar decisions about their banking requirements.
Hidden Figures movingly showed John Glenn’s extraordinary courage as he got into the space shuttle to become the first American to orbit the earth. His confidence however was rooted in the maths. He believed the algorithms would guarantee his success and progress the space race.
Here at Castlight, we have the same confidence in the programmers behind our API and are looking forward to seeing the platform propel open banking forward. In a giant leap perhaps?