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Account Aggregator Ecosystem progress report for 2020-21

10 Apr 2021

The financial year 2020-21 has just ended, it was a very important year for all of us, we made significant progress to get the AA ecosystem to where it is today in spite of the pandemic. Each of us was quick to adapt to the new work environment (full-time WFH for many months!) to work towards our goals.

We would like to share a detailed report of the work done during the financial year 2020-21.

AA Ecosystem Current Status

The following entities have successfully completed their certification and are production-ready,

  1. Account Aggregators: CAMS, Finvu, NADL, Onemoney
  2. FIPs/FIUs: Axis Bank, Bajaj Finserv, DMI Finance, HDFC Bank, Indusind Bank, ICICI Bank, LendingKart

A few banks are in the process of completing their first FIU use case (personal loan, SME lending, PFM), post which they will go live and make it available to their customers. 

Evangelization, Events

Sahamati has participated in various fintech+data related events in India and abroad to talk about the account aggregator ecosystem. 

The 5-week long hackathon held in July/August of 2020 was a huge success, the objectives of the hackathon was,

  1. Increase Awareness of AA ecosystem – Approximately 3,000 registered on Airmeet to watch the proceedings, 600 registered on our Slack channel to build a vibrant AA community
  2. Education through our 26 masterclasses by subject matter experts
  3. Innovation
  4. Build a Community of AA enthusiasts

Indusind Bank and Axis Bank were among the first ones to be certified in the ecosystem. Each of these banks held virtual events to celebrate their certification. 

We held a community event on December 28, 2020, to showcase the certified account aggregators. Post this event we have seen a significant interest in technology service providers signing up with Sahamati for providing their solutions for the AA ecosystem.

Technical Standards

ReBIT published an update to the AA API Specifications on Sept 15, 2020, consolidating suggestions from the AA community. The update, numbered V 1.1.2, has 25 enhancements across AA, FIP and FIU APIs. The release notes can be accessed here. The salient features of this version, grouped under 4 themes, are as given below:

  1. Security: Inclusion of a standard x-jws-signature header in all relevant APIs, to enforce a common approach to non-repudiation.
  2. Testability: Inclusion of a standard error model for all APIs, to improve API usability.
  3. Traceability: Inclusion of parameters such as version, timestamp, transaction ID for end-to-end traceability.
  4. Learnability: Harmonization of naming conventions and descriptions of API parameters to reduce the learning curve.

We are still in the early days of AA, we expect the specification to undergo changes in the coming months and years. A strong Change Management process needs to be in place for the successful implementation of these changes. Recently, Sahamati submitted an API Change Management strategy document to ReBIT. 

ReBIT has incorporated the recommendations as per this document into a draft API Change Management Strategy note that they circulated last week to the AAs.

Certification

We have been reaching out to certifying companies to get them empanelled for Sahamati’s certification program.  We expect to have an additional certifier, other than Aujas, to be offering their services by August/September of this year.

Volunteers, Working Groups

Sahamati Volunteer Meet #01 in 2021

Sahamati is extremely grateful to our volunteers & working groups who have been contributing to various activities,

  • Evangelization: Workshops are being completely handled by a couple of volunteers
  • SDK Security
  • Sahamati Infrastructure: Helping us with planning and running the infrastructure to host the Central Registry and Token service
  • Innovation, Use cases: Developing new use cases (unified nominations register to reduce unclaimed assets), Consent framework for corporate accounts etc
  • Framework: Developed the Terms of Service for the AA ecosystem which defines the roles and responsibilities of AAs, FIPs and FIUs. Also, a team is working on building a framework for ODR (Online Dispute Resolution).
  • Ecosystem Services: Designed, developed and operationalizing the Central Registry, Token service for the AA ecosystem. AA SDK’s embedded in 3rd party apps will play an important role in increasing the adoption of AA, a team has written the guidelines for creating a secure SDK.
  • Branding, Product: In June 2020, we released the new logo of Sahamati. We are working on the branding guidelines which will be released in the coming months. To smoothen the user-AA journey we standardized UX workflow for new user signups from FIU apps to AA web apps.

In December 2020, we published the “Sahamati Volunteer Hall of Fame” to recognize the volunteers who had volunteered their valuable time to the AA ecosystem.

Roadmap for 2021-22

Just when we thought the pandemic was easing, it seems to have gained momentum. But this time we are better prepared. Pandemic or no pandemic, Team Sahamati is all set to meet the goals for FY22. This financial year we need to focus on the supply side of the data.

  • Onboard banks and NBFCs
  • Include entities from other regulators – SEBI, IRDAI, PFRDA
  • New data sources from other sectors – Telco, DigiLocker, Income Tax, Provident Fund, Utility bills etc.
  • Host our common services on a good hosting provider which offers high availability and disaster recovery
  • Membership drive
  • Expand Advisory Council
  • Create Technical Advisory Committee, Regulatory Advisory Committee
  • Hire smart personnel to work on the above tasks

Other Updates

In September 2020, Vamsi Madhav joined Sahamati as the Head of Products & Standards. Vamsi has added tremendous value to the ecosystem. Sahamati needs to hire 2-3 key personnel to work on various projects and decrease our dependence on volunteers.

To summarize,

What Went Well What Could Have Gone Better?
Community BuildingGot more banks on the ecosystem
Awareness of AA has increasedIncreased the number of certifiers
15 entities were certified
Collaboration with ReBIT
Volunteers contributing to key areas such as security
Increased interest from the TSP community
What Will We Try NextWhat Questions Do We Have?
New data sourcesWhat date should be set for certified banks to go-live?
Membership driveWhat can we do to scale up the ecosystem?
Focus on supply-side
Form Advisory Committees