Certified FDC3: Finos reveals interop vendors compliant with open-source standard

Following Finos’ long-awaited release of its new FDC3 compliance testing framework, two of the three major container-based interoperability providers have received badges certifying their adherence to the growing industry standard.

Today at the annual Open Source in Finance Forum, held in downtown Manhattan, the Fintech Open Source Foundation (Finos) revealed that its conformance testing framework for its best known standards project, FDC3, is up and running. Two of the three major desktop application interoperability providers, Cosaic Finsemble and Glue42, have passed tests developed and approved by the open standard’s maintainers and received Certified FDC3 1.2 Desktop Agent status from Finos, which governs and oversees FDC3 and its working group.

The tests were developed to measure and ensure compliance with FDC3 version 1.2, but framework development for version 2.0—its latest iteration released in July—is still underway.

“We’re happy for this to be the first formal certification framework of a Finos project, which is in and of itself a really important sign of the maturity of the standard,” says Gabriele Columbro, executive director of Finos. “Having a way to quickly identify which products are compatible with the standard without leaving that burden on the user is a major role we see Finos playing, not only for the FDC3 standard, but for the many other software and standard projects we’ll be developing.”

The conformance program will be available free for at least a year. With Cosaic and Glue42 becoming certified desktop agents, users gain a neutral assessment of standard compatibility of open-source and proprietary products. Additionally, FDC3 Sail—recently rebranded from Electron FDC3, a fully open-source reference implementation of the standard based on Electron and housed within Finos—has received certified desktop agent status, which will allow firms or individuals wanting to use FDC3 without the help of a proprietary vendor to be compliant.

“One of the things that has been a drag on the evolution and the pace of adoption [of FDC3] has been the uncertainty caused by the pace of evolution,” says Matt Barrett, CEO of Adaptive Consulting, the organization that chairs the FDC3 working group. “Decision-making in big banks is slow. Buying cycles are slow. Budgets are limited. If there’s uncertainty as to which vendors or standards to use, and there are competing priorities for those resource budgets, people will just spend their money elsewhere.”

Finos and its members are hoping that this moment serves as a sea change. Barrett says standardization goes a long way toward giving banks and buy-side firms reassurance that the interop ecosystem is stabilizing. If customizations and new features should break an implementation’s compliance status, users can be notified and, importantly, understand how to get back into compliance.

Leslie Spiro, co-founder and chief executive of Glue42, calls the arrival of the program “long overdue” and says he is proud that the interop community—a mishmash of competing vendors, open-source enthusiasts inside and outside of finance, and institutions longing for better workflows—has finally reached the milestone, which has been in the works for more than a year.

“What we have now is a way of saying you actually support FDC3 in the correct way. Previously, it was an aspirational thing,” Spiro says. “You could say you support FDC3, but there was no way to demonstrate it. I think the badging is incredibly important as a first step.”

As the testing program expands to include version 2.0 and future iterations, Spiro believes the tests’ scope will expand beyond API specifications to standardize other important aspects such as contexts, which are the ways in which concepts like trades, counterparties, or instruments are defined in written code.

With any technical standard—especially one developed in the spirt and ethos of open-source technology, accessibility, and democratization—there’s a line between ensuring it’s advanced enough to solve problems and making sure not to build more barriers to adoption through unneeded complexity, says Dan Schleifer, Cosaic’s CEO.

“I think the standards committee has done a really good job that FDC3 is very simple to implement but can solve real-world problems,” Schleifer says. “And one of the most exciting things I’m seeing in the FDC3 community is business people, not technologists, stepping up and getting involved in use-case working groups around workflows that interoperability would be the most valuable to—so that the standard can learn from those working groups and evolve to solve business problems, not just solve a technology vision.”

OpenFin, another major provider of container-based interop technology, has yet to receive a badge or certified desktop agent status from Finos. However, Columbro says the vendor has begun the process of self-certifying and Finos continues to support OpenFin on its own timeline.

Johan Sandersson, OpenFin director of product and a maintainer of FDC3, says OpenFin is fully FDC3 compliant and will continue to look at certifying.

“The biggest current challenge with FDC3 is adoption and not compliance. However, we do see some incremental benefit from these conformance tests and will be certifying in the coming weeks,” he says.

The latest newcomer to the ring of interoperability providers is Connectifi, the brainchild of FDC3’s ideator and creator, Nicholas Kolba. Though Connectifi utilizes FDC3 for the goal of interop, Kolba’s startup uses cloud, rather than a container, to connect user applications. Finos’ current FDC3 compliance framework was built with container-based providers in mind, so Connectifi is not yet badged. But Kolba says with further testing development, the company will apply for certified desktop agent status.

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