Fintech, health tech driving interest in APIs

In Australia it is still early days for the discussion around APIs as a business tool but interest is growing, says the organiser of the local APIdays conference

The increased profile of the fintech and health technology sectors in Australia is helping drive the conversation around APIs as a business tool, according to Saul Caganoff, an organiser of the local APIdays conference.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in things that are happening in the financial sector, so fintech has gained a fair amount of visibility, particularly in the local Australian environment,” said Caganoff, who is also CTO of Sixtree.

“We’ve seen a lot of initiatives coming out of federal and state government focussed on the post-mining economy and innovation,” Caganoff said.

“I think a couple of areas that have really been highlighted have been fintech and health tech, and that has brought the conversation around to sharing data and exposing services through digital platforms, which means effectively you’ve got an API as a central part of that kind of business model.”

The inaugural APIdays Australia conference was held in Sydney last year, with around 300 attendees. This year, the conference will be held in Melbourne and the organisers are expecting around 400 people to take part.

“A couple of years ago we saw that APIs were gaining a lot of traction elsewhere in the world,” Caganoff said.

“Organisations primarily in the US but also Europe were starting to work with APIs. We saw that there was a lot of nascent activity happening in Australia – both within startups and within enterprises – but there weren’t a lot of people talking about it publicly.”

“We wanted to start this conference as a way of kick starting the conversation in Australia around the broader story of digital business and digital transformation that people were talking about at very high levels, but keep it somewhat grounded through the lens of APIs,” Caganoff said

“So what are these things called APIs and how are people using them to deliver their services on a global basis as well as a more local basis.”

Caganoff said the organisers looked around for an event they could “copy and paste,” and went with the APIdays global series of conferences.

The organisers’ current plan is to continue alternating between Sydney and Melbourne (the conference also expanded to Auckland in October for APIdays NZ, which Caganoff said will also continue).

“I think the success of [the inaugural Sydney conference] really showed that the local industry is very interested in APIs and really starting to talk about what they were doing. The interest is still distributed between startups that are kicking off API-first strategies as well as enterprises that are feeling the need to innovate; they’re feeling some level of heat from disruptive startups.”

It is still early days for the API discussion in Australia, Caganoff said, but even in the last 12 months the discussion has matured.

“APIs have become a lot more visible and I think that goes hand in hand with some of the other things that are happening within the broader industry, Caganoff said.

Mobile and software-as-a-service are driving interest, as are ‘platform’ businesses such as Uber and Airbnb, he added.

APIdays Australia will be held 1-2 March 2016 in Melbourne.

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