Integration Insights You can Take to the Bank: Top iPaaS for Handling Financial Data

November 3rd, 2019

If you’re a fan of Brooklyn 99 like I am, you know there’s only one thing that could make Amy Santiago late: a line at the bank! This popular cold open reflected a universal cultural stereotype: working with banks is inconvenient, time-intensive, and can derail even the most prepared customer’s day. With the advent of the digital world, and the demands for accessibility that come with it, it’s a stereotype that financial organizations cannot afford to reflect in reality.

Banks are working to make their services more accessible and customer-friendly, and mobile or online banking have already (in my experience) yielded dividends on customer satisfaction. However, a primary obstacle for banks is the prevalence of data silos and duplicated processes between various lines of business within their institution. Breaking down data silos and integrating processes is a crucial step in bringing financial institutions into the modern customer-centric age. While there are many ways to do so, a key component to integration strategies is using an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).

What can iPaaS do for the finance industry?

In some ways, financial businesses are like any other: they have to create a product or service, market and sell it to consumers, and ensure that customers are satisfied with their product. In this sense, iPaaS can do for financial marketers, salespeople, client managers, and other departments what it does for other industries. Namely, it can automate routine data entry, enable SaaS and on-premise systems to share data, and automate workflows between systems for greater efficiency and productivity and less “wasted” time on the mundane.

There are also many banking, finance, and accounting-specific benefits to data integration. Many of them revolve around overcoming the stereotypes of financial institutions as inaccessible or unfriendly towards customers, as well as restructuring the processes that give that impression in the first place. A broad list of data integration tips and tricks can be found here, but it’s easy to identify  a common understanding behind much of the advice surrounding financial data management: integration is key to banks modernizing how they deliver their services in the 21st century.

Towards this end, Mulesoft (a main iPaaS vendor) created a whitepaper outlining how iPaaS should be used to modernize the banking industry. The report’s thesis is that banking systems should go beyond digitizing services to unifying disparate product lines into a singular experience for customers. In doing so, businesses can broaden their customer touchpoints and catalyze new opportunities to influence and support customers’ financial decision-making.

In terms of application, Mulesoft advocates for focusing on API connectivity, also known as “API-led approach” or “microservices.” A general breakdown of what APIs are and why they matter to you can be found here. The short version is that centering your IT structure around APIs allows your services and data sources to communicate with each other from the beginning, rather than adding on integration after the fact.

However, additional services and features also bring additional security concerns. APIs can be an avenue for malware and hackers to attack financial systems. Be sure to utilize appropriate security measures for your system to minimize your data’s vulnerability. In some cases, such measures may also be legally required.

This is an intensive conversion process, but the right iPaaS can ease the growing pains. Multiple vendors are aware of this need and have developed “API management” features that facilitate an API-led approach. They have also built out their security features to protect your data across the platform.  If your financial organization can benefit from greater integration, either for backend efficiency or customer-facing accessibility, check out what other users have said about the top iPaaS for financial and banking organizations!

Mulesoft

Mulesoft is one of the primary evangelists for API-led integration, particularly for heavier and more complex technology ecosystems. Since they authored the whitepaper on iPaaS’s application to the banking sector, it’s unsurprising that Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform offers services suited to the customizable integrations that large banking organizations would need to effectively integrate their data silos.

Mulesoft also offers API-focused security measures. For instance, the vendor advertises edge gateway security to accompany existing and new APIs, as well as automatic data tokenization when transferring information. The vendor also has additional security features on the product roadmap.

There are limited user insights available for Mulesoft’s Anypoint Platform, but they do reflect Mulesoft’s advertised specialties. API policy management and developer collaboration are clear strengths for the Anypoint Platform. However, the iPaaS is not necessarily ideal for general business users or smaller organizations. Mulesoft’s own report advises utilizing in-house API specialists and managers, and the user’s experience reflects that same need for in-house technical experience or specialization.

Dell Boomi

Dell Boomi is another enterprise iPaaS (EiPaaS) that has invested in API development and management support. In particular, Boomi enables developing and deploying APIs on-premise or in the cloud. The on-premise option allows you to keep data behind your own firewall on-site rather than storing it on the AtomSphere platform. Boomi also provides password encryption security during the API build and deployment processes. The platform is GDPR compliant, which has become standard among large-scale or internationally-targeted iPaaS.

According to users, Boomi’s application to financial data is most common when supporting financial activities across industries, rather than the finance sector specifically. One user uses Boomi to integrate software across their finance, IT, and sales departments. The user noted Boomi’s reliability, which can be a differentiator if you want to use an iPaaS to integrate mission-critical integrations. However, security was not a standout feature for the user. If you are working with heavier financial data with greater privacy/security concerns, check with the vendor to ensure Boomi’s security specs meet your requirements.

A Director of Finance uses Boomi to connect finance and Ops software, including Salesforce, NetSuite, Zendesk, and Workfront. In their experience, integrating open APIs was easy to the point that they were able to turn an accountant into their in-house Boomi admin. While the interface became clunkier as the business required more complex integrations, they were still able to scale their integrations to support a twenty-times increase in their ARR with minimal manual labor involved.

Jitterbit

Jitterbit has responded to the API trends in the iPaaS market by framing itself as an API development and integration platform. Jitterbit’s features are designed for users to create, deploy, and manage APIs on the scale that can benefit larger financial organizations.

Jitterbit provides an excellent breakdown of its security offerings, which can be found here. Notable features include data encryption, access control lists, and customizable deployment to host connections either on the cloud or behind your firewall, depending on your deployment and security concerns.

The platform’s financial users have yet to adopt Jitterbit’s API management capabilities. Instead, the iPaaS is more frequently used narrowly as a Salesforce ETL tool. Some users go so far as to deploy Jitterbit as an Salesforce ETL complement to their Mulesoft Anypoint Platform.  As an ETL tool for financial users, it’s praised for how rapidly it can be deployed. For example, one user was extremely comfortable with the software within 2 days. Ease of use extends beyond Salesforce ETL cases—a user that processes financial data and documents from multiple sources also found Jitterbit extremely user-friendly.

One common caution is to be aware of the price for your use case. One Salesforce ETL use case found Jitterbit pricey compared to other ETL tools, and another user encountered licensing complications when using Jitterbit’s development capabilities.

TIBCO Cloud Integration

TIBCO Cloud Integration has also expanded its services to support API-led integration. TIBCO’s messaging on their site emphasizes support for developing the integrations between APIs rather than developing APIs themselves.

TIBCO Cloud Integration has two primary components. Scribe houses the prebuilt connector capabilities of the iPaaS. If you’re looking for something closer to out-of-the-box functionality, Scribe will better suite your needs. BusinessWorks is the integration development platform, which includes a no-code environment for API and API-related development.

Security-wise, TIBCO’s Cloud Integration runs on AWS and utilizes its base security functions. TIBCO also provides specialized security features, such as password encryption security and specific precautions to secure features like elastic load balancers.

Scribe is more commonly used by users since its connectors functionality is more accessible to non-technical users than the BusinessWorks development platform. For instance, one bank uses Scribe to integrate with their CRM (Dynamics 365), marketing automation SaaS, and on-premise data sources. One user within the bank found TIBCO very easy to use, but also noticed that the platform slows down when handling larger batches of data. Users also deploy Scribe to automate financial data entry and to integrate Salesforce with backend systems. For these users, TIBCO was similarly easy to use, but in cases of high data volume, the platform consistently ran into either slow downs or errors when processing some records.

Example of BusinessWorks are less frequent in financial contexts. One exception is an enterprise-level bank that uses BusinessWorks as an ESB for developing web services and mapping integration workflows. In this case, BusinessWorks is preferred as a proprietary software for banking over Mulesoft or any “open-source solution.”

Workato

Workato offers users competitive security features, including end-to-end data masking and encryption. It also enables excellent user management via custom roles and permissions, access control, and SSO.

However, it lacks the API development support of the other iPaaS on this list. Some users also feel limited by the set of prebuilt integrations that Workato offers due to the lack of integration developer features on the platform. This means Workato’s support for customizable development for enterprise users is limited compared to APi-focused vendors.

Financial professionals have still found value in using the iPaaS. One user automates foreign currency rate integration and triangulation across systems and data sources. They also integrate financial transaction records and pull customer information from ERP (a common use for iPaaS across industries). Other users integrate software more generally across sales, marketing, finance, and project management departments to address data silos and time-intensive manual data entry.

In each case, ease of use is a standout benefit for Workato. For some users in Finance and Accounting, the line of business user accessibility is a competitive advantage— they explicitly chose Workato over other technically-intensive options because they would have necessitated contracting engineers. In contrast, users implemented and use the platform themselves with help from Workato.

These users’ insights should start you on the path towards the iPaaS that can best meet your needs. Want more insight into how iPaaS has been used to help integrate financial data? Check out the full list of iPaaS products here. Looking for a broader breakdown of the iPaaS market? Check out our Buyer’s Guide and the iPaaS market segmentation, as well as our deep dives into the small scale, mid-market, and enterprise segments!