Visa leverages open API model to give consumers security controls

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Visa is leveraging the open application programming interface (API) framework that the company announced last week to allow financial institutions to give consumers more control over their credit cards. The new Visa Consumer Transaction Controls service allows Visa card issuers to give consumers tools for setting spending controls, receiving transaction alerts, or even temporarily suspending their own credit card accounts.

The new security services leverage the Visa Developer platform that the company announced last week, promising to transform the world's largest retail payment network to a more open platform, by making open APIs available to developers. It is also a sign of the significant momentum APIs have gained in recent years, promising to transform business through more seamless collaboration.

While it's no surprise that technology companies like IBM have embraced open APIs, the Visa announcement is the latest example of how open APIs have been sweeping through financial services. Visa competitor MasterCard has embraced APIs for a while. Its MasterCard Developer Zone page spotlights a partner-hosted wallet API, customer service APIs, tools for rapidly building and testing MasterCard payment applications for Android devices, APIs for accepting ecommerce transactions and more.

The 165-year-old Western Union Company began embracing open APIs last fall, as it courts social network and mobile carrier partners for its money transfer services. BNY Mellon executives said in December that the NEXEN framework that the bank launched last spring, which includes open APIs, has already helped the bank cut costs and improve productivity. Newer financial services players have embraced the concept as well. Lending Club launched a suite of APIs, called Lending Club Open Integration, in August.

Part of the impetus for adopting this new model was recently described by Chris Selland, Hewlett Packard's vice president of business development for the big data platform. In the age of open APIs, he explains, "many of the most useful apps are made more so by other apps."