Cross Industry: the Key to Innovation
Today, all things and people are connected through networks. The spread of smartphones and IoT has accelerated this trend, and vast amounts of data are accumulated in systems handling information. Diversified systems that process such data have also been developed.
The problem here is the fact that collected and accumulated data and systems for processing such data are not fully utilized. Although only recently has the movement to efficiently analyze collected data using AI been seen, this is targeted at data collected in-house only. If, however, in addition to in-house data, other companies' data can be accessed and used by combining their technologies and services, seeds of unprecedented innovation may be discovered. The same thing also applies to functionality and services. There is a good possibility that new services that have never been seen will be generated.
In the financial industry, the ammended Banking Act was enacted and new services are accelerating as a result of API (Application Programming Interface) disclosure. In response, Fujitsu has launched initiatives toward achieving a platform for cross industry businesses in which services and expertise of different industries beyond the financial industry are linked. As part of such efforts, Fujitsu has held the FUJITSU Cross Industry API Contest aimed at the emergence of innovative businesses from customers and venture companies. During the contest, Fujitsu disclosed APIs' specification developed based on years of experience of being involved with the businesses of customers in various industries and sectors to the entrants.
Brilliant Ideas! Ventures' Unique Point of View
For this contest, Fujitsu prepared a total of 130 types of APIs for five sectors, including education, medical care and health care, with a focus on the financial systems. What kind of new services will additionally be generated if accumulated data and proprietary services can be accessed externally via several APIs? Many venture companies competed to seek out ideas for such services.
On September 6, 2017, eleven companies that survived the preliminaries gave presentations at the Fujitsu head office. Each of them was assigned eight minutes presentation. Every approach presented by them for using APIs offered a unique view and was filled with potential for cross industry collaboration. The following introduces the prize winning presentations.
First prize winner, Aquabit Spirals Inc., proposed applications for the SmartPlate device that the company developed. Just by holding a smartphone over the SmartPlate, a small, battery-free device, the smartphone browser automatically accesses the specific service. When this system is combined with some APIs, the following will be possible. If, for instance, SmartPlate is installed on stadium seats, spectators can check from their smartphones information on players, the teams and the last train according to the progress of the match. They can even buy beer using SmartPlate. If it is mounted on clinic registration cards, patients will be able to make appointments from their smartphones and confirm information regarding prescriptions, examination history and expenses. It is also possible to show private information only on pre-registered smartphones and show information irrelevant to the card holder when other people place their smartphones over the card. With a simple action of holding a smartphone, this system allows the user to access various services linked to the API.
The Excellence Award was granted to Liquid Japan Inc. The company has excellent technologies in the area of large-scale, high-speed searches for fingerprint authentication. Liquid Japan proposed combining Fujitsu's palm vein authentication technology with their technologies to build a next-generation biometric authentication platform, a cloud-based ultra-high speed personal authentication using fingerprints and veins. This company suggested using the platform for payment services and other situations where personal authentication is needed. According to Liquid Japan, general lifestyle data accumulated by this system can be restored using APIs and then used for marketing. Local governments can use the platform for detecting the use of biometric authentication by senior citizens, thereby confirming that they are alive. Mr. Hoshina of Liquid Japan expressed his hope to expand "the world in a palm vein" across the world to make people's life more convenient.
The jury prize was awarded to CurrencyPort Limited, which presented the KYC solution needed at a virtual currency exchange.
According to the company, identification required to open a bank account, etc. can be performed speedily and at a low cost. The solution, enabled by OCR extraction, identification, and the mutual issuer/non-issuer authentication system via postal mail using the social security and tax number system related API, will significantly reduce costs.
APIs enable Speedy Business Development and Seizing Opportunities
As the guest session speakers, Takeyuki Shimizu, Head of Apigee (API management platform) Sales Japan of Google Cloud Japan G.K. and Satoshi Amanuma, CEO of airCloset, Inc., which provides a ladies fashion rental service specializing in everyday wear, were invited.
Mr. Shimizu discussed that using API is the key for expanding operations and seizing opportunities while citing Uber and Walgreens (a famous U.S. drug store chain) as examples. He also introduced an example of making advances in his company's business by making APIs developed in-house available to third parties as well as using it in-house. Mr. Shimizu further argued that the soundness of the API ecosystem is vital for developing APIs and for that purpose feedback is necessary when using APIs.
The next speaker Mr. Amanuma introduced how he uses API as a user, citing the services of his startup company as an example. airCloset's service of delivering cloths selected by stylists to busy women via home-delivery service is well received by users. This service, which started two years ago, is rapidly gaining many customers. He discussed that ensuring the API's scalability is vital to maintaining the service. The company's API is used to collect data as well as for collaborating with Warehouse TERRADA, which is responsible for distribution, in actual operation of the service. It seems that his presentation attracted the attention of the audience at the venue as an example of the expanding field of API use.
In addition to cross industry collaboration using APIs such as this contest, Fujitsu will promote new businesses in various ways, including business matching between Fintech companies and Fujitsu financial institution customers at the Financial Innovation For Japan (FIFJ) consortium and support for venture companies through co-creation in the MetaArc Venture Program.