HMRC has today published its application programme interface (API) strategy, promising to support software businesses with a “third party software first” approach that encourages suppliers into the market and broadens the opportunities for new products and services.
The strategy sets out how HMRC will develop open standards to govern the exchange of information between its online services and privately-developed software, with the aim of hastening the agency’s move into the digital space. HMRC already conducts more than 1.1bn digital transactions annually, of which three quarters are completed via APIs interacting with programmes developed by over 600 software developers.
HMRC promises to “build APIs with richer capabilities; allowing existing developers to do more and encouraging new intermediaries into the tax software market”; to “develop APIs that help make interactions straightforward for users of third party software, enabling third party products to work seamlessly with HMRC systems”; and to monitor its success in growing the market, measuring a range of metrics to monitor digital transactions and supplier numbers.
To help foster a thriving market in software, HMRC is promising to remove entry barriers and share its business rules. This will, the strategy says, mean working “more closely with developers, and earlier in the technology lifecycle,” and providing “a self-serve developer hub with performance dashboards, standardised documentation and integration tooling to improve the experience for all developers.” Data and HMRC business rules will be made available to prepopulate online forms, and the department will open “a collaboration zone to provide a physical space for software developers and our support teams to work together.”
Mark Dearnley, HMRC’s Chief Digital and Information Officer, commented that: “Our vision is to provide software developers with better and richer APIs that will enable them to innovate and bring more sophisticated software products to the market.”