New rules came into effect in January 2018 requiring UK banks to share current account holder data through an integration technology called application programming interfaces (APIs). These APIs are set to be used by third parties including challenger banks, fintechs, tech companies and credit reference agencies to open up the banking industry, further improve the public’s experience with the financial services industry and spark innovation.
PwC forecasts the market could be catering for 8.1m consumers and 2.4m small businesses and worth £2.3bn by the end of 2018. By 2022, the Open Banking sector could quadruple its worth to generate £7.2bn of revenues, PwC’s research indicates.
In order to track developments and consumer attitudes during the first six months of Open Banking, PwC, in collaboration with the Open Data Institute, conducted interviews with executives and Open Banking leads at banks, technology firms, payment providers, FinTechs, regulators and industry bodies, alongside a survey of 1,034 consumers and 213 SMEs across the country. PwC has also tracked 29 approved licenses to handle customer-authorised account information and payment services.
Jonathan Turner, financial services payments leader at PwC, said “We are seeing companies starting to treat Open Banking regulation as a critical topic that cannot be ignored due to the size of the opportunity, but also because of the potential influx of competitors and the potential overhaul it could deal the financial services landscape. By providing access to this data to third parties, Open Banking goes some way to levelling the playing field between the traditional financial services providers and new disruptors. Incumbents are at risk of falling behind more technology enabled peers as well as the new market entrants such as FinTechs.”
“However, incumbent payment providers are already reacting by boosting innovation, emphasising the valuable features and building on the trust that they have established and invested in over many years.”
Although the initial aims of the Open Banking standards were to increase competition in banking and current account switching, PwC has tracked a broader focus on areas including reduced overdraft fees, greater financial inclusion, better control of data, and improved customer service.
- Aggregation platforms – A single view of customer financial information across multiple providers; consolidated view of multiple lines of credit.
- Process Improvement – Higher quantity and quality of credit scoring information which will particularly benefit “thin- file” individuals with little or no credit history.
- Advice and analysis tools – Platforms allowing product comparisons between third parties; advice to customers on how they can save and spend more effectively.
- Banking product offerings – Overdraft decoupling ie tracking of overdraft data to drive product recommendations for consumers; automated management of cash balances and future cash flows
- Non-banking product offerings – Analysis of customer utility bills to drive product recommendations; advice on and management of property assets
David Beardmore, commercial director at the Open Data Institute, said “We welcome this timely report into Open Banking in the UK. It has used primary research from more than 1,000 consumers and over 200 small businesses to examine attitudes to Open Banking since the new regulations were introduced in January 2018. We also spoke to banks, fintechs and payment providers to give the first accurate picture of how this step-change in financial services provision is developing six months after its inception. At the ODI, we believe that Open Banking has the potential to radically alter the face of banking in the UK, and from our work with other countries we know that many of them are looking closely at the UK’s progress and are keen to learn from it. We are pleased that we were able to collaborate with PwC on this report and believe that Open Banking will produce many opportunities, not least the rapid burgeoning of the fintech sector. We are hoping for real momentum in bringing to market many innovative products and services which will bring tangible benefits to both businesses and consumers.”
PwC’s survey analysed the key demographics likely to drive Open Banking uptake. There is a widespread distribution of ‘addressable’ (ie the ones most likely to want and use Open Banking products) retail customers across the UK, especially in the Midlands, London and the North of England.
The survey of retail consumers found that the most addressable type of consumer who industry players will be developing services for are younger, low income and comfortable using technology, and likely to use Open Banking to identify ways to reduce personal expenditure through:
- Aggregation of financial product information
- Analytics of expenditure and direct debits
- Personalised financial product comparisons
The consumers most likely to share data tend to be young, urban-dwelling, high earners who are comfortable using technology and multibanking. They may be more likely to change between financial providers and may use Open Banking for
- Money management
- Personalised financial product advice
However, PwC’s survey results also reflected the scepticism some consumers hold around Open Banking. Many would rather share their medical information rather than the details of their banking transactions or bank balances.
As Open Banking products and the underlying technologies mature, PwC expects the “unknown quantity” element to taper off – just as it did with the advance of contactless payments – a technology which is now widespread and broadly seen as secure.
First wave: At present, with only current account data available via APIs, propositions are predominantly focusing on improving solutions to known financial services issues. Many of these propositions are already available via screen scraping.
We anticipate the second wave will focus on creating new financial services propositions that address gaps in products and services – where solutions are not currently available in the market.
In the third wave, open data structures are likely to become more widespread in other industries, and this will accelerate if Open Banking proves successful. It will provide the opportunity for the development of propositions that not only improve financial services, but also feed through into a broader range of life management services by using AI (e.g. a digital assistant that automatically manages tasks such as food delivery, tax payments, utilities bills, etc).
Jonathan Turner added “Open Banking is a potential game changer for individual and corporate consumers. It provides an opportunity to transform the public’s interaction and everyday experience with the financial services industry. But there are still many ‘hard yards’ to travel. Few disruptive propositions have been developed so far. This is unsurprising given that since the launch of Open Banking in January it remains unclear who needs to get an account information licence or a payments handling licence and how these licences may change in the future.”
“If the sector can solve some of these key issues early, consumers and businesses will benefit faster.”