How mobile APIs are helping the retail, travel and banking industries go mobile-first

By Karin Kelley

| Banking

In an increasingly mobile and data-driven world, mobile APIs let businesses connect and integrate people, data, algorithms, systems, devices and “things” while enabling transactions and much more. Most importantly, APIs give businesses the power to create new and better user experiences, products, services and business models. In short, APIs give businesses the ability to turn into platform providers. Internal or external developers can build complementary services through these platforms, optimize the exchange of goods and services, manage integration with back-end infrastructure and systems and facilitate transactions through any device.

Although the API-based economy is still in its very nascent stages, industries such as retail, travel and banking are already leading the way in mobility.


As consumers continue to leverage multiple channels to conduct research, compare prices and purchase products, retailers are feverishly building omnichannel programs to deliver a seamless customer experience throughout the entire purchasing lifecycle. By leveraging APIs across web, mobile and social media, retailers are engaging customers by providing them with consistent and targeted content, promotions and rewards programs across all channels. To do this, retailers are developing technology that gives customers access to content, commerce, promotion and loyalty programs through APIs.

Retailers are also building APIs that integrate with mobile apps, third-party partners and affiliates, geolocation services, social media networks and ad networks. These APIs enable businesses to integrate with back-end systems to personalize the shopping experience for each customer based on purchasing habits, product preferences and experiences with customer service.


According to a recent report by eMarketer, global digital travel sales surpassed $533 billion in 2015. The report cited mobile applications as a major driver for this growth. Ride-sharing business Uber is the most well-known example of how a mobile API can drive an entire business. By integrating with Google Maps through a mobile API, the service instantly matches drivers with riders through a mobile device. Airlines are also leveraging APIs to enable travelers to book flights through a mobile app and to integrate with the following:

  • Digital marketing partners such as Google or TripAdvisor
  • Hotels and car rental services to access relevant inventory, scheduling and pricing information
  • Banking partners for automated, mobile payments
  • Geolocation services on a mobile device

These APIs also integrate with back-end systems so airlines can manage loyalty programs, promotions and the personalized experiences to which today’s consumers are accustomed.


Like retail and travel, the banking industry is under increasing pressure to deliver services across multiple channels, including mobile. Because customers want to be able to access all their financial information at their convenience, banks are working to provide this through APIs by partnering with the following:

  • ATM vendors
  • Loan services organizations
  • Mortgage processors
  • Real estate companies

For example, if a potential home buyer is driving around the neighborhood she wants to purchase a house in, she can access all the information a real estate company has on properties through the bank’s geolocation-enabled mobile app. As alternative mobile banking services such as Boku come to market, traditional banks are providing competitive services such as digital wallets by developing the required APIs. Banks are also using APIs to connect their mobile environments with third-party security providers and government regulatory agencies to provide better security and compliance.

Though many businesses are still in the very early stages of building a comprehensive mobile strategy, they must do so in order to survive in an increasingly mobile world. The enterprise mobility market will only continue to grow, and because of this, businesses in all industries simply must go mobile. Mobile APIs will help them get there.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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