Brandee Shin, Product Manager for the Capital One DevExchange Credit Offers API, helps us appreciate the backdrop of FinTech, how that sets the stage for this new API offering, and hypothetical use cases that could take this into some very interesting territory.
How long have you been with Capital One and why did you join the company?
I’ve been with Capital One since August of 2015. My background is FinTech. I previously worked for PayPal. One of the main reasons why I joined Capital One is, even though they are a bank, they are doing a lot of innovations in technology. I was really excited to see what they were working on. So, here I am.
Tell us about “FinTech.” Why has this term become so popular lately and what does it mean for the financial industry?
“FinTech” stands for financial technology. The idea behind FinTech is using software and more tech-company focused ideas for financial services. It’s been around for a very long time, since the late-90s. FinTech is a hot topic these days because you are now seeing more traditional financial companies get into it. Consumers are now seeing more innovation, or longing for more innovation from their banks. It’s becoming mainstream.
What were the major leaps forward for FinTech? For example, what was the breakthrough for PayPal? And what other major developments got us to where we are today?
PayPal owes a lot of their success to eBay. That was a big use case. PayPal allowed anybody to send money to an email address. Coupled with eBay, this allowed anyone take a credit card payment from their living room, working with what they already had in front of them: their Internet-connected computer. It lowered the barrier of entry. You no longer had to buy this separate proprietary piece of equipment to process a card transaction. Things like that led to what became FinTech.
As far as more recent changes in the industry go, Bitcoin has made a huge impact on FinTech. It’s been around for a while and we’re seeing companies start to accept Bitcoin as payment. It should be interesting to see where that goes. And not long ago there was a big blowup in mobile payments. With smartphones, you actually have a computer in your pocket which enabled mobile card readers like Square to move into the brick and mortar space. In addition to that, smartphones brought us app stores and a micro-transactions boom. This allowed smaller payment processors to gain traction by being competitive with processing fees. So (she laughs), there’s a lot.
What’s on the horizon that could be the next big thing for FinTech?
Mobile will play a part I’m sure, but honestly it could be something that we’re not anticipating. It’s hard to predict what’s going to be that next killer use case for us. But partnering with outside developers will help us see new potential. That’s where the next big idea will most likely come from.
Why is the Credit Offers API good for customers?
From the customer side, as a person in the US, your credit report is very important. The secret recipe to having good credit requires following some rules. You need to have credit and use it wisely. But at the same time you can’t inquire for credit too often, because that goes against your report.
The Credit Offers API allows you to see what offers you may be prequalified for without actually putting in a full application that will go against your credit report. That way, if you’re doing comparison shopping on cards that you’re interested in, you can get a peek at that list up front without having to commit to a particular card. Our Credit Offers API helps you make a better decision for what card you actually want to get.
What’s the key takeaway for developers?
This occurs without the customer having to be redirected to another site.
It happens within a developer’s own site or app, and comes back in 60 seconds or less.
We are working to get that time down to be even faster. We know the faster the results, the more likely the customer will respond. It’s important to understand this is a personalized list of possible prequalified offers. It has the customer’s name on it.
What are some of the other features and benefits that a developer would like to know about this API?
(Counting down a list)
If you have a login already, and the customer has provided their basic info: first name, last name, address — you can just use the last four of their social for confirmation to get the offers. Those are the four fields required for the API.
Other information such as income levels, checking or savings accounts, et cetera, are optional. The API is designed to be lightweight.
There’s simple and secure OAuth credentials for authentication.
We offer a reference app, which is small, but we’ve heard it was very helpful in implementation.
Also, our documentation has gotten a lot of positive feedback.
What were the greatest challenges your team experienced in getting the Credit Offers API ready for DevExchange, and how did you overcome them?
In order to make this work, we’re connected to a third-party database that connects us to the credit bureaus. We have one tech team that works with the third party and another that owns our core services. Their schedules were not at all aligned, which made our Agile process really challenging. Then we had another tech team that was working on the API gateway — what the outside developers interface with. These teams were not in the same geographic location. So getting these teams to understand each other’s tech and constraints was tough. Plus we had a tight schedule. These logistical challenges were the biggest universal challenge.
We solved that by getting people in the same room early on to identify dependencies and get schedules together. Regular face-to-face conversations over video chat became crucial for managing the ongoing logistical challenges. Once we had everything mapped out after those initial meetings, the regular video chats between teams solved the geo, schedule and communication challenges.
What kind of use cases do you hope to see for the Credit Offers API?
Right now, the Credit Offers API is currently focused on possible pre-qualification. I’d like to see this get into more of a browsing experience. It’s about bringing shopping choices to the customer wherever they are — on blogs, forums, travel sites. How often is someone thinking, “I want a Capital One card, I’ll go there directly,” verses they may be somewhere else and it just comes up, and they’re thinking, “I’d love to take this cruise. I wonder if I should put it on a card. What kind of cards are out there?” If you can have that offer happen in the browsing experience, you may be more likely to get the customer. Normally, you would just have an ad in that scenario, but this runs deeper. I think that’s where we’re headed.
As personalized offers of possible prequalified credit become the new norm, it will be interesting to see what other use cases are implemented. If Brandee Shin’s educated guess is any indication, credit offers may find customers before they even decide to go shopping for a new credit card.
Learn more about the Credit Offers API and how it can help you expand or improve your products by visiting the product homepage on the DevExchange site. There you’ll find features, an overview, documentation and more.