Trust is the Most Important Component of Your Developer Platform
Why co-creation can’t happen without trust
September 10, 2018
As real-time, immersive digital experiences become the consumer expectation, companies must meet their needs by cultivating a more open and collaborative approach to business. We no longer live in a day and age where one single company or individual can build the ultimate experience. Instead of building monolithic experiences, we are using technology products and services as building blocks to co-develop more meaningful digital experiences for our users.
We want to make sure we’re helping our partners be successful in their ecosystem, and that we’re doing it as a brand they trust to have their back. With developers and partners, this kind of credibility matters a lot. They need to know that you won’t compete against them, that the service will be reliable, that APIs will be retired with full transparency, and that two-way communication will always be prioritized.
When Capital One set our platform strategy and opened up our services to a new segment of partners and developers, it was because we wanted to be part of the newest, most innovative customer experiences they were building. Given the regulated environment we work in, we first had to meet certain requirements and start a two-way conversation with our regulators. Yet again, in this situation trust is established when you can be transparent and show the end destination you’re trying to solve for. This isn’t a matter of checking off boxes, this was a learning process with a lot of feedback along the way.
I believe the success of the Capital One DevExchange platform stems from creating valuable, trusted APIs and open source projects that serve the needs of our integration partners and developer community. By creating a space to access our externalized fintech APIs, we can co-create experiences and reach customers we’d otherwise be unable to with internal resources alone.
Whether you’re using a ride sharing app to connect with drivers or shopping your favorite ecommerce site on your phone, it’s increasingly likely that a platform company built that experience, and that additional platform companies are powering it behind the scenes.
A company like Airbnb has built a marketplace to connect potential short-term renters with property owners in a frictionless vacation rental experience. A lot of “building blocks” went into developing their platform, allowing them to build the best experience for prospective renters and owners instead of re-inventing the wheel on things like payment processing. By plugging into existing payment processing systems — for example PayPal, Google, and Stripe — they were able to remove payment friction and focus their energy on the consumer experience of their platform. This approach to building with APIs and industry partnerships typifies the platform mindset.
By decoupling technology from distribution and allowing for the co-creation of experiences, platform companies have a distinct competitive edge. They can meet customers wherever they are — on their mobile phones, on the web, on their voice assistant. But how does trust play into this equation? Especially in industries where trust is foundational to the business?
Breaking Down the Meaning of Trust
Trust is paramount to the financial services industry due to the level of personal information our customers share with us. A similar centering of trust can be found in industries such as healthcare, but it’s importance applies well beyond these two examples.
I take a multi-faceted approach to thinking about and building trust. The starting point for it is really transparency. For an API platform or an open source project, transparency doesn’t start with sharing your product roadmap. It starts with the ability to have genuine conversations and build grassroots credibility with your community. When we started the Capital One DevExchange in March of 2016, we wanted everyone to understand that our platform was built around the concept of “exchange” in every sense — the exchange of ideas, information, and code in a two-way conversation between us and our partners.