Apple vs. Open Banking: Public APIs are no longer an option for finance apps

Apple has tightened the rules for financial apps, they should no longer come from third parties. Multi-banking app providers are concerned.

Apple has changed the rules of the game for financial apps on its platforms: Apps around “financial trading, investing and money management” it is no longer allowed to access public programming interfaces (API), as the Apple has determined in an update of its “Review Guidelines”, which apply to the distribution of software in its app stores.

Use of public APIs deleted

With this step it is intended to clarify who is allowed to offer such tools at all, explained Apple. Financial apps should come from the financial institutions that also offer the respective service, it now only says in the abbreviated paragraph 3.2.1 (viii) of the Apple rules. According to the rules, third-party providers previously had to use public APIs for their finance and money management apps – this option has now been deleted.

This is causing uncertainty among providers of multi-banking apps: The online banking standard FinTS or the older HBCI are also such interfaces, writes the provider of the online banking app MoneyMoney and wonders whether this means the end of “independent banking apps”.

Interfaces for “Open Banking”

In Europe, the PSD2 Payment Services Directive now obliges banks to set up interfaces to enable third-party service providers to have secure access (“Open Banking”). However, according to Apple’s new rules, the use of such interfaces now seems to no longer be allowed for iPhone, iPad and Mac apps from third-party providers. Only Mac apps can also be sold outside of Apple’s App Store and do not have to adhere to the Group’s app rules for this distribution channel.

Whether Apple wants to take action against multi-banking apps with the changed rule remains open for the time being. A request from the group went unanswered. There have been no reports of app rejections or expulsions so far. Developers of financial apps seem to be going mobile against the new regulation: Since last fall, Apple has provided the option for developers to fundamentally challenge individual rules – but the company continues to make the decision itself.