As an enabler for increased competition and customer choice, open banking is transforming the banking sector for consumers, challenger banks, FinTechs and traditional players alike. The UK’s version of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2), open banking is forcing UK banks to open their data sets via secure application programming interfaces (APIs), resulting in them re-positioning their services away from being one-stop shops for financial products, to open platforms, where consumers can embrace a more modular approach to banking by allowing third parties to access their financial data directly.
As we enter the second full year of an open banking environment, Kevin Day, CEO of HPD Software, the asset based lending and factoring software platform, discusses the opportunities and challenges that the sector is likely to face in 2019.
Rapid and significant innovation in financial services to grow the market considerably
Open banking’s data sharing rules are aimed at developing new technologies and innovation, which have been advancing at a rapid pace, and which is expected to continue, resulting in increased competition between banking providers and FinTechs. The open API data, which includes account aggregation, improved financial management, credit scoring thin-file customers and integrated lending and accounting platforms allows companies to create bespoke products and target potential customers in a completely new way.
Through such innovation, customers will be able to quickly compare accounts, helping them to understand where to find the most suitable products. Financial management meanwhile could now be offered by an array of financial service providers, from established banks to charities, in a move that encourages customers to shift from traditional ‘under one roof’ banking services to specific, individualised services that are suitable for their personal financial situation. The potential revenue opportunity across a range of SME and retail customer propositions is estimated by PwC to be £2.3bn at the end of 2018, of which £1.8bn could be cannibalised by existing or new players in the market, with the remaining £0.5bn representing new revenue opportunities. Based on forecasts for adoption across the same markets over the next four years, PwC expects incremental revenue will total £1.3bn, where £5.9bn is ‘revenue at risk’.
“A lack of homogenous technical standards may make operating processes susceptible to corruption and companies need to be clear on how they will safeguard their data against fraudulent activity“.
Enhanced industry collaboration
Another considerable advantage of open banking is the enhanced industry collaboration that will result from data sharing as providers, traditional banks and FinTech companies will between them be able to offer something that the other cannot. With so many players in the financial services industry, the formation of partnerships between banks and their FinTech competitors will result in increased choice for customers, and will help both players to survive and expand their services in a rapidly evolving industry. Any new products formed through such forward-thinking partnerships will likely see the benefits at both ends of the spectrum.
Traditional customer platforms are going to change
Open banking will enable a new league of consumer profiling that will require minimum effort to find the most relevant information on products and services across the industry that are tailored to their individual needs and history. From personalised investment solutions to retail overdraft decoupling, the shift in data optimisation will become the new normal, altering the way traditional price comparison platforms operate. This movement won’t stop there: bank account and transaction data can provide an opportunity to collaborate across different sectors where retailers, utility providers and tech companies can function together on aggregated data platforms.
Access to consumer data increases responsibility around security
The opportunities created by initiatives such as open banking, which have the potential to transform the industry, of course come with responsibilities, and one of the major challenges will be around managing risks related to security. A lack of homogenous technical standards may make operating processes susceptible to corruption and companies need to be clear on how they will safeguard their data against fraudulent activity. Any major data breach is likely to negatively impact retail customer uptake – many consumers consider their financial data more personal than their medical information. With complex chains of data access, both banks and FinTechs must also consider the obstacles associated with responsibility for any security breaches, and ensure that their software is able to identify, predict and react to risks or breaches in good time.
“By bringing third-party providers into the banking system, there is a considerably increased risk of scammers gaining access to customer information”.
Liability becomes an issue
By bringing third-party providers into the banking system, there is a considerably increased risk of scammers gaining access to customer information and the finance provider will be liable, unless there is evidence of fraud or negligence. With both banks and FinTechs alike facing increased security threats, without proper legal clarification, it’s inevitable that finance providers will do what is necessary to push liability on third parties.
Open banking is still a relatively new initiative
A lack of awareness and education around the capabilities of open banking will be its greatest challenge in the short term. Finance providers will need to convince customers of the benefits of sharing their data in the first instance, and as yet, banks are not marketing open banking, which directly impacts the ability for it to innovate and provide new propositions.
While the corporate sector and SMEs in particular seem far more willing to embrace open banking, consumer review body Which?, has found that 92% of consumers had never even heard of the initiative. As such, banks and FinTechs need to embark on a considerable education programme for consumers to better understand the benefits of open banking and how it can help them take control of, and better manage their finances, from monitoring spending to making better savings and investment decisions.
For finance providers in the Asset Based Finance space, there are opportunities to leverage efficiencies from open banking, in particular in the area of cash processing with the potential for virtual bank accounts to streamline cash reconciliation. There are also value added services that can be offered to SMEs to assist them with other aspects of running their businesses. Finance providers will need to have an open mind and be prepared to collaborate with FinTechs and other technology providers.
Once banks have stronger propositions to offer their customers, they will become more vocal and the lack of awareness will gradually cease to be an issue. For the financial services industry and new entrants alike, it is important that all parties embark upon this education programme with the proper systems in place for proper levels of monitoring, security and scalability to ensure a success of the industry.
Article Written by:
CEO, HPD Software
First appeared on: Finance Monthly UK