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Building APIs for Green Industries: Fintech & Energy

Speakers: Catalina de Castro, Jannika Aalto and Phoung Pham.

Catalina de Castro, Jannika Aalto, and Phoung Pham introduce us to how APIs and open ecosystems can help build innovative, customer-focused digital products and services that meet sustainability goals.

We know that there are businesses building their solutions; whether it’s green tech, a bank, a FinTech, or a mobility provider – let’s call it the provider side. Then, we have the target market: any business either already has a target market interested in exploring a new one. The questions are:

  • What are the pain points?

  • What are the needs of our customers? Which is the sustainability impact?

  • How can we create solutions that provide real tangible high-impact value?

An example of who has built a real use case solution is Cushon; a UK-based savings, investment, and pension product for individuals and households. They have a few different products, but we focused on Net Zero pension. The problem statement for them was how might they enable individuals and households to have a say in what their wealth and savings are funding, keeping in mind the sustainability impacts.

It’s when they partnered with another FinTech called Tumelo, which has a voting API that allows the pension holders, in this case, directly communicate to the corporations that are investing their money and vote where they want their money to go. So, they’ve done the thinking process of what are the needs of their customers, what they want, and what they expect.

Apply a solution that doesn’t need to build anything from scratch or reinvent the wheel, taking existing components, and putting them together in new creative ways.

After exposing this Cushon example, some attendees give their opinion and thoughts saying that this is a big opportunity to grow faster, offer services, or have lower transaction costs. But the main challenge and concern appeared too: both parties must agree. It isn’t just a technical solution — that’s always somehow possible — it’s a question of effort to convince both parties or multiple parties to build one and have a common understanding of the API standard that they’re going to use.

The last exercise of the workshop consists in solving other real problems of the example. Every business has to go through an ideation process to define those real problems, but skipping this part, let’s point out some of them:

  • How might they allow households to spend less money on energy bills?

  • How might they get households to retire their gasoline or diesel cars?

  • How might they make EV charging infrastructure more widely available?

  • How might they enable manufacturers to make their logistics and transportation processes more sustainable?

  • How might they encourage the construction industry to source more reused or recycled materials for building activities?

As a session result, the attendees go through a thinking process, pick a problem, and propose a solution. Keeping this in mind, we finally have to ask ourselves:

  • Who is this for? Who are your stakeholders and your target market? What’s the sustainability impact you want to create?

  • What tools to use? Open data sources, open data ecosystems, API, AI, etc…which could have the impact you desire?

  • Who can you partner with? What wider support, resources, tools, and community are needed? What do you have access to?

Written by: Bety Soca

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