Community Blog

Community Blog

Why Open Source Matters in Financial Technology

February 21, 2023

It’s easy to assume that financial technology is built in radically different ways than in other industries, especially in the open. That’s certainly true … and it isn’t.

In some areas, sure — financial technology is different. Our industry is regulated in ways that other industries aren’t. Security requirements are likely more stringent, or at least different, than technology organizations in other industries. 

But if you look at all technology organizations today — ours and those of our competitors — you’ll find that our world has seen a democratization of the very principles that currently define computer science.

Look at the history of technological innovation over the last several decades, and you’ll clearly see that the greatest innovations always happen in the open with the next great advancement building on its predecessor. 

So, if you peek under the hood of a modern financial services company, you’ll see transaction systems, databases, mobile applications, web front ends, customer care centers and more all using open technology. In that way, our industry is not unique. Still, there are certain use cases when it comes to payment networks and transactional fluidity where we as a FinTech industry set ourselves apart. Either way, open source is here and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. 

The 2022 FINOS study, State of Open Source in Financial Services, found that 87 percent of respondents said that open source is valuable to the future of financial services. The only thing surprising about that number to me is that it wasn’t 100 percent. I’m not sure how you can look across the financial technology sector right now, see the tech stacks that we and our competitors are building — largely through open technology — and not see that it is one of the most important pieces of what we do today. 

With any seismic mindset shift in technology, however, there needs to be an accompanying culture shift. We’ve been making that journey a priority at Discover over the past few years, and we’ve found three main areas where we see the greatest need in developing FinTech engineering culture: 

  • Driving professional development
  • Building internal and external eminence 
  • Fostering community and meaningful engagement with business colleagues 

On a personal note, my work in open source can be traced back to some of the earliest examples of cross-company collaboration. Open source may be in its infancy in the grand scheme, but if you consider how far we’ve come since the early days of Linux and Apache, it’s simply incredible. 

The common denominator through all these experiences has been the people — the dedication that people have to give back to a higher cause. That’s what I’ve tried to do in my career: to pay forward the opportunities that I had, and to be a good steward for future generations of technologists.

And that’s why Discover is here. We joined FINOS because it provides us an opportunity, along with our peers, to discuss how we are using this technology now and far into the future.

The FINOS mission is to accelerate collaboration and innovation in financial services through the adoption of open source software, standards, and best practices. That mission could not be clearer and more aligned with our own. It’s why we recently launched the Discover Technology Experience, where our engineers are sharing their knowledge and eagerly inviting the broader technology community to build their craft with us.

We’re here to help shape the future of financial technology. Who’s in?

Author: Angel Diaz, VP Technology Capabilities & Innovation at Discover Financial Services

Interested in reading the entire 2022 State of Open Source in Financial Services Report? Download it from the link below.