Open Banking Expo 2019
In the opening keynote by Jim Marous he stated that “change has never happened this fast, and will never happen this slowly again". A statement which is both terrifying and inspiring in equal measure.
We are currently on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, which will disrupt almost every industry in every country and the banking and finance sector is right at its vanguard. Last week the second, annual Open Banking Expo explored the progress that has been made across the banking industry over the last 12 months in bringing open finance to the mass market.
Two months after the final PSD2 compliance deadline we are left asking, "when will we know whether Open Banking has been successful"?
Some argue that it will be when Open Banking is so ubiquitous that we refer to it simply as "banking". To reach this point Open Banking will need to have been adopted by the mass market, as contactless payments have been over the last few years.
The tipping point in the adoption of contactless payment technology by the mass market was when the industry identified a successful use case. This moment came in 2015 when they utilised the technology to replace the Oyster Card on the London Underground. From this moment on, contactless payments became increasingly prevalent and, bolstered by improved consumer trust and the increase in the provision of contactless terminals, card payments overtook cash payments in 2018 and contactless payments now account for 50% of all debit card transactions.
If this example tells us one key thing, it is that consumers will be driven to adopt new technology if it is faster, more convenient and more widely available than that which it is replacing.
As a result, banks and fintech providers need to look at developing use cases where open banking technology can deliver a smooth, seamless, frictionless customer experience. As one of the speakers at the event put it, "giving back the gift of time through Open Banking". In order to do this effectively, providers will need to focus on how they can use their Data Analytics to develop an exceptional Customer Experience.
The companies that offer the best Customer Experience will be the ones that will own and retain the consumer relationship. Gone are the days where banks are the de-facto holders of the consumer relationship. Banking is becoming more of a utility, and we are being given the freedom to switch our banking provider more quickly and efficiently than ever before. The great potential of Open Banking is that it will allow consumers to deconstruct banking into its component parts and services, and reimagine their own blend of providers using products such as Yolt which allow the individual to aggregate their different current accounts, savings accounts, lenders and pensions inside one app.
The Open Banking Expo also focused on the disruptive fintech start-ups that are using Open Banking to improve financial inclusion. On the day of the event Nesta announced the 15 finalists of their Open Up Challenge 2020; a shortlist which included some inspiring examples of how this new technology can be used for the greater good. Some of these examples may well provide the use case needed to kickstart the mass adoption of Open Banking.
As in the case of contactless payments, the increased adoption was supported by both improved consumer trust and the availability and effectiveness of contactless terminals. As a result, the success of Open Banking will require the CMA9 to improve both the availability and response time of their APIs. At present the availability is not yet at 99.9% level which is required and expected in other sectors, and the response times average around the 800 millisecond mark, whereas 200 is the level most complex web APIs aim to achieve. So as we can see, there is still some way to go around refining and improving the applications themselves to give a seamless and fluid user experience.
However, given the progress that has been made over the last 12 months, the industry is heading in the right direction and it will be exciting to see how the sector develops and matures over the next 12 months. Here at DP Connect, we look forward to continuing our work with the OBIE and many other fintech providers in their realisation of bringing Open Banking into the mass market.