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Two years into Open Banking, we’ve only just started

By Rolf Merchant, Senior Manager Business Development, Innovate Finance on 25/09/19

Open Banking promises a great deal for consumers. It is touted as a driver of innovation in the financial services industry, a route to better products and an improved customer experience. 

Nearly two years since its inception, Open Banking has clearly made an impression on the industry, but how much it has changed financial services and what it could unlock in the next few years is open to debate. 

To explore these themes, Innovate Finance hosted a discussion and dive into Open Banking at our member Revolut’s offices in Canary Wharf. We took stock of Open Banking’s progress to date, gazed into the future and had a look at what business models it has helped create. 

Panel

We kicked off the evening with a panel discussion, moderated by Kate Bohn, Incubator & Accelerator lead at Lloyds Banking Group. Our expert panel comprised Matt Cockayne, Chief Commercial Officer at Yapily, James Vagra, CEO of The ID Co, Huw Davies, Head of Premium APIs at Open Banking, James Black of Hogan Lovells, and Joshua Fernandes, Open Banking Product Owner at Revolut.

James Black (Hogan Lovells) summarised where Open Banking is today, following its creation out of a Competition and Markets Authority order and PSD2 regulation. 

Huw Davies (Open Banking) gave an overview of the Open Banking ecosystem, pointing out that there are 180 players in the market and a further 500 are due to come soon. He then gave an overview of how user experience is a crucial aspect of Open Banking. 

James Varga (The ID Co) made the point that Open Banking is really just a data set, but the interesting part is how that data is used. James said it was up to the industry – to FinTechs – to make use of that data and find out what motivates customers to share and give consent for use of their data. 

Joshua Fernandes (Revolut) agreed, adding that it was vital for FinTechs to communicate that Open Banking is a secure process. He said that it was crucial for FinTechs to start from the customer’s problem and build a product from there. 

Matt Cockayne (Yapily) explained that the UK is a leader in Open Banking, and praised the work of the Implementation Entity for “holding banks’ feet to the fire” to make sure the regulations were put into effect. He added there will be a number of fast followers across the world, who may well build and improve on the UK’s experience so far.

Moving onto use cases, Joshua Fernandes (Revolut) covered personal financial management, where apps can become a single point of access for customers’ money and financial services. James Black (Hogan Lovells) argued that the most exciting use cases are yet to exist. He predicted the emergence of a payments service that would undercut traditional payments providers and card issuers and make ecommerce easier for merchants and consumers.

Huw Davies (Open Banking) strongly agreed with James Black (Hogan Lovells), saying that we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Open Banking could achieve, particularly in peer-to-peer payments to improve business’ cashflows and the SME funding gap.  

Looking at use cases in general, James Varga (The ID Co) suggested that use cases that do not benefit either businesses and consumers at the same time simply don’t work. James said the best use cases provide convenience for customers and solve a business challenge.

Matt Cockayne (Yapily) looked at the opportunities in Open Banking for SMEs, particularly helping small businesses to get paid faster and more efficiently.

The discussion switched to thinking about how incumbent banks view Open Banking. Joshua Fernandes (Revolut) argued that banks will see it as an opportunity to innovate and change the way they do things. 

Huw Davies (Open Banking) said he believed that this is the best opportunity for banks in two decades and those who approach it well are the ones that will really thrive going forward. He added that the industry is only at the starting line, so there is much for banks to do. 

Joshua Fernandes (Revolut) cautioned that change may not come quickly, citing the length of time it took for contactless payments to become widely used. 

Panellists ended by taking a peek into the future, with Kate Bohn (Lloyds Banking Group) asking for views on whether Open Banking will eventually lead to “Open Finance” and “Open Data”. James Varga (The ID Co) argued that Open Banking has set the framework for consumers to view sharing their own data as acceptable and normal, so that shift is underway. The panel agreed, but felt that we were still some way away from consumers recognising their data as an asset of value that they could sell.

Pitches

The evening concluded with short pitches from:

  • Robert Atkin, Founder and CEO of The Open Banking Portal. The Open Banking Portal is a payment gateway to connect merchants to Open Banking, helping merchants to save huge amounts compared to making payments via cards. 
  • Zackery Lambert, Head of Growth at Plaid. Plaid helps provide developers with user-permissioned bank data to help create new products. 
  • Matt Cockayne, Chief Commercial Officer at Yapily. Yapily is a technology enabler, offering service providers an easy way to retrieve financial data and initiate payments providing one single secure API for connectivity to financial institutions. 

From our panel discussion and a look at some of the business models that use Open Banking, it’s clear that we have only seen the beginnings of what this initiative has to offer and the impact it will have on financial services.