We sat down with Nigel Abbott, Regional Director, North EMEA at GitHub to talk about how Open Source is being used in financial services at FinTECHTalents 2019.
Watch the video now.
Is Open Source a ‘dark secret’ in financial services?
I think for a number of reasons I would suspect that there’s an element of education here for the c-suite around their use and reliance on open source and that’s not specific to financial services, that’s pretty much the whole of the FTSE 250. But I think when I look at banking in particular, they’re notorious for wanting to keep their IP sacred. Anything that I can do as a bank that will protect shareholder value and bonuses, I want to keep tight to my chest.
I think there’s a perception here that software is a great case in point and I shouldn’t be telling anybody about what we’re doing in the industry.
If Open Source is about sharing – where is the competitive advantage?
So, if you look at the typical bespoke development that the financial services organisations are doing, and this is no different to any other organisation, about 80 to 90 percent of that code is germinated or directly comes from open source. It’s only the 10 to 20 percent that is stuff that you’re crafting within your software engineering facilities. It’s often seen that the 20 percent is the added advantage. You’re standing effectively on the shoulders of giants to get the table stakes of functionality, some of the core libraries and some of the core capabilities that everybody uses.
The market differentiation comes from employing the right people and having them talk and collaborate about where we can innovate on this remaining 10 to 20 percent.
Have any banks embraced that sharing mentality?
Some are much much better than others. There is still an air of secrecy within the banking world that ‘my line of business needs to keep my secrets away from your line of business’. There are certainly instances with banks where if you’re talking to an M&A section they can’t share their code with ‘the great unwashed’, the remainder of the lines of business within the bank – that’s not a thing, everybody gets that.
But there’s definitely benefit from transparency and from making code and issues public. You only want to secure the stuff that you absolutely must for the security of that IP within the bank. Everything else should be visible, everything else should be transparent – I should be able to search and find this stuff and more importantly contribute to it. I have an opinion and that opinion is valid within the bank and it should be heard.
So, I say in summary some are better than others. I think it’s a cultural change that is gaining momentum.
Download the exclusive Vox Pop report asking industry leaders from HSBC, NatWest Markets, OCBC Bank, Santander UK, Finastra, and GitHub whether Open Source is the future for financial services now.