We’re very excited to be announcing the IBM Cloud for Financial Services, a FinTech ecosystem and open platform that makes it easy to build and share applications and data. The platform is designed to provide one-stop shopping for everything a financial institution needs to build innovative new applications. The platform combines finance-specific APIs and data with our core cloud capabilities, such as Watson, Blockchain, and IBM Analytics. We believe that by simplifying the secure integration of financial data and systems with a rich ecosystem of cloud-based analytics, machine learning, and blockchain capabilities, financial institutions will have a faster path to improving customer engagement and modernizing business processes.

Our first delivery is very focused on providing a set of APIs from IBM and a set of FinTech partners within Bluemix, but our plans go much further than that, so I wanted to outline them here.

To get started, we deconstructed some of our market-leading Algorithmics capabilities into a set of microservices that we have exposed as APIs in Bluemix. These services enable financial portfolios to be priced and analyzed under different market scenarios. It is the same technology used by many of the largest banks in the world to manage their financial risk, but now available on a self-service basis via APIs. In this form, they can be used to build new types of applications that translate market events into likely portfolio outcomes. Over time, we’ll continue to release new APIs from the IBM portfolio.

In addition, we’ve begun to build a rich FinTech ecosystem by working with a first wave of exciting partners who bring differentiated capabilities to developers. Initially, we’ve focused on partners in the financial markets, wealth management, and payments spaces, but I expect this list to continue to grow over the coming months, into areas such as loans and mortgages, fraud detection, insurance, and regtech. We are actively recruiting innovative new FinTech partners who are willing to publish open APIs that banks can tap into, so we’re happy to listen to suggestions. We’re working through a curation process to validate the APIs we’re bringing onboard into Bluemix in order to deliver a mature set of capabilities to the platform.

At launch, we have included a couple of starter kits, one focused on IBM Blockchain and one using the new Algorithmics services combined with Watson cognitive services and some external data. The idea behind these starter kits is to demonstrate and make code available for some of the patterns for using the services together. I expect that we will continue to add more of these starter kits over the coming weeks. In fact, some of our FinTech partners are already actively working on starter kits of their own that combine their services with others in the platform.

One of the key differentiators we have within the IBM Cloud is a market-leading set of tools for hybrid integration. These tools provide an easy mechanism for integrating securely from the cloud into on-premises systems. We think this is essential to the success of the platform, since financial institutions will need to understand best practices, reference architectures, and microservices patterns in order to securely integrate to their internal systems.

As part of this, we’re taking advantage of our recent acquisition of Promontory to help advise us on the best ways to assure compliance within our platform. Promontory brings a wealth of expertise in the financial regulatory domain, enabling us to maintain a thorough and differentiated approach to compliance. We know this is important to our customers in Financial Services, so we intend to make that a big part of our focus.

Beyond our launch, we’ll be continuing to innovate on this platform, with the intent of expanding into domain-specific elastic data lakes and specific APIs to simplify and speed integration to on-premises systems. We plan to tap into our relationship with the Banking Industry Architecture Network, and our involvement in the Open Banking Initiative to standardize the way banking processes are represented as APIs in the cloud. We believe that regulations like Payment Services Directive 2 can be more easily addressed through this approach, and it will also provide an easier path for bridging cloud capabilities from the FinTech ecosystem back to on-premises systems. We plan to apply this same approach in the Insurance industry.

This launch is the first step of what we believe will be a long successful journey toward delivering cloud capabilities that are tailored to specific industry needs. We’re excited about the possibilities that are unleashed with this approach, and we encourage you to sign up for Bluemix and give the new platform a try. Join us in building the future of financial services.

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