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Dominican Republic   

Dominican Republic   

The Revealed Financial Future: Open Banking in Action

Open Banking involves opening banking data and infrastructures to third-party financial service providers using application programming interfaces (APIs). This allows individuals to access a wider range of personalized and competitive financial products and services from a single platform or application. Consequently, Open Banking fosters innovation, competition, and financial inclusion.

A third-party financial service provider is an entity offering related services such as managing, handling, or advising on the finances of individuals or businesses. These services may encompass credit intermediation, payment processing, investment management, financial analysis, or strategic consulting, commonly delivered through Fintech companies.

Third-party service providers can benefit individuals by offering increased accessibility to innovative financial services. Consequently, market actors diversify, enhancing competition and transparency.

Open Banking offers several consumer benefits, enabling them to leverage market opportunities. Some advantages include:

  • Quick comparison and selection among various financial products and services like accounts, cards, loans, investments, insurances, etc., based on individual needs and preferences.
  • Ease of accessing and managing finances from a single application or platform, eliminating the need to switch banks or open new accounts.
  • Personalization and adaptation of financial products and services to one’s financial profile and behavior, potentially enhancing financial literacy and well-being.
  • Time and cost savings by reducing associated service fees and commissions.
  • Greater transparency and information about finances, granting increased control and visibility over financial data and history.

However, Open Banking also presents challenges and risks for customers and financial service providers due to inadequate or limited legal regulation. These challenges include exposure to privacy breaches, data security concerns, and susceptibility to fraud or cyber-attacks. Identified risks encompass personal and financial data protection, transaction security, liability in cases of fraud or non-compliance, supervision, financial activity oversight, and harmonizing regulations across different countries.

Consequently, Open Banking necessitates an appropriate legal framework guaranteeing the rights and obligations of all involved parties, particularly users, ensuring trust and transparency in the financial system. Some countries have already adopted specific regulations for Open Banking, such as the European Union with the Payment Services Directive (PSD2), implemented in 2018. This directive mandates banks to share data and infrastructures with authorized payment service providers and account information services with client consent.

In contrast, countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia have chosen a more flexible approach based on voluntary agreements among market players. Nevertheless, ongoing regulatory initiatives seek to promote Open Banking development in these countries.

Singapore has taken a leadership position in Open Banking and Fintech ecosystem development, supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The MAS has played a pivotal role in facilitating information flow among financial service actors, establishing common standards as a foundational pillar. Additionally, it has influenced innovation and financial inclusion through API Exchange (APIX), a cross-border collaboration platform connecting banks and FinTech companies. Singapore’s major banks have worked to promote Open Banking by sharing data via public APIs. However, this practice isn’t without risks concerning data security and confidentiality. Consequently, banks must rigorously comply with both Banking and Personal Data Protection laws, implementing additional measures to safeguard consumer interests and maintain financial industry integrity.

Currently, in the Dominican Republic, there is no regulation mandating financial intermediation entities to share client data with third-party providers, as seen in the European Union. Neither is their specific regulation for financial intermediation entities voluntarily sharing client information with third-party providers. While the country has Law No. 172-13 on comprehensive protection of personal data held in archives, public records, databases, or other technical means for data processing intended to provide reports, whether public or private,’ allowing banks to share financial information with client authorization, ethical principles outlined in the law must be adhered to. However, this law primarily focuses on regulating Credit Information Societies, not directly third-party financial service providers of Fintech companies or API providers.

In the Mexican context, regarding the Fintech sphere, the ’Law to Regulate Financial Technology Institutions’ or ’Fintech Law’ was implemented in 2018, regulating non-bank entities offering electronic payment services and collective financing. Within this legislation, traditional banking and other financial entities are mandated to share information with third parties, allowing data exchange to enhance the offer of financial products for end users. This Fintech Law empowers data exchange with non-financial companies, making Mexico the first and, to date, the only country permitting this exchange form. Despite being advanced legislation, considerable obstacles persist in fully adopting application programming interfaces (APIs) to optimize Mexican regulation.

Regarding Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), these interfaces facilitate communication between different applications or services, enabling data exchange and functionality integration. While APIs are increasingly used for innovative and efficient solutions by businesses and developers, they also pose regulatory challenges.

Key aspects identified for API regulation include:
  • Security: Protecting personal data and information confidentiality during transmission while preventing possible cyber-attacks or fraud. This necessitates appropriate technical and organizational measures such as secure protocols, encryption, authentication, access control, or monitoring.
  • Quality: APIs must offer reliable and effective services meeting user standards and expectations. Establishing quality criteria involves performance, availability, scalability, compatibility, and documentation.
  • Interoperability: APIs should facilitate connection and interaction between diverse systems or platforms without creating technical or legal barriers.

In the Dominican Republic, there isn’t specific or exclusive regulation for APIs in the financial or banking sphere. Financial and privacy regulations may indirectly apply to APIs in some cases, but there isn’t innovative legislation exclusively dedicated to them.

Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic is not far from financial inclusion through Open Banking. In January 2021, the Monetary Board issued resolution JM 210129-02 concerning the Payment System Regulation, regulating Electronic Payment Entities, Electronic Payment Accounts, Electronic Payment Agents, Acquiring Companies or Acquirers, and Electronic Payment Agents. Similarly, in July 2021, the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic issued instructions for Electronic Payment Entities and Electronic Payment Accounts. This opens doors for innovative Fintech solutions within the Dominican Republic’s financial system, aiding those with limited access to financial services. However, these regulations do not explicitly mention data openness to Fintech companies.

The Dominican Republic’s Superintendence of Banks (SIB), regarding future projections as an institution, aims to strengthen the financial system and support underserved populations. Consequently, the SIB has established an Innovation and Financial Inclusion team fostering product creation supporting financial inclusion. Additionally, the SIB has partnered with the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) to align with international financial inclusion policies.

In 2022, the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, in collaboration with the Superintendences of Banks, Securities, Pensions, and Insurance, launched the Financial Innovation Hub. This initiative aims to serve as a support, interaction, and advisory space for regulated and unregulated entities involved in technological innovations for the financial sector. The Dominican Republic is on a direct path to contributing to sectors previously lacking accessibility to the financial system, supporting technology-focused financial development for financial inclusion.

However, it’s important to note that existing regulations in the Dominican Republic do not focus on companies intending to work with virtual assets.

Open Banking stands as an opportunity allowing consumers to enjoy highly personalized and competitive financial services. Achieving this vision demands continuous and robust collaboration between banking entities and Fintech companies, aiming to build an open and secure financial ecosystem. It’s a global trend offering significant opportunities to enhance people’s financial experience and well-being, as well as to invigorate and diversify the financial sector. However, it also involves significant challenges and risks that require serious consideration and proactive measures, establishing adequate and proportional regulations to ensure user safety, privacy, fair competition in the market, and space for responsible innovation.

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