Last week, we released a piece of research - The Global Open Finance Index. It makes for tough reading for those of us who passionately believe that the UK’s status as a global leader in Open Banking is a major strategic asset.
No matter how you look at the data, the report paints a picture of a first mover, that gave the participants in its ecosystem time to develop the skills, the technology and the experience to take on the world with a huge competitive advantage. It also shows
that advantage beginning to evaporate as other markets, boosted by the ability to learn from the UK’s experience, are moving further and faster.
Brazil has reached five million connected accounts five times faster than the UK, Australia is already live with “open energy” and countries like Singapore and Saudi Arabia are delivering standards that will be regionally interoperable. The competition for
UK open banking providers is already heating up.
I have no doubt that Open Banking and (eventually) Open Finance will have a profound impact on the UK, revolutionising our credit market, bringing huge, excluded groups into mainstream finance and providing differentiated competition to the card rails, but
in terms of the economics, the real prize is still on the table.
India has created, through its account aggregator programme and public digital infrastructure investment, a market where a billion accounts are accessible via a single standard and where the vast majority of residents are covered by an API-driven digital
The US has managed to corral 42 million accounts under the FDX standard without any regulatory push - and that regulation is incoming from the CFPB.
According to Accenture - there’s $416bn of revenue up for grabs by the end of the decade. We have a choice about whether we want that to be brought back into the UK’s fintech ecosystem or not. If we do, we need to take decisive action.
On the public policy side, we need to establish a strong, independent body to preside over the future of the sector, we need to move on Open Finance, (the data bill is sitting in a drawer in parliament and should be moved forward as a priority) and we need
to think about how we can build regulatory passporting into trade deals as we sign them.
On the market forces side, we need more banks to take a leaf out of NatWest’s book and accelerate the development of premium APIs, we need to align on risk and liability frameworks for the use of these and work towards clarity for the market on commercial
details. Finally we need better engagement between institutional lenders and retail lenders that use Open Banking data. Cost of capital is a major hurdle for Open Banking’s proliferation in the lending space and this both can and should be addressed.
This is a blockbuster agenda for 2023, but if we can get it done the prize for UK firms will be transformational. If we can’t, Open Banking will still have a major impact on our domestic economy but it might not be the firms hiring UK talent and paying UK
tax that deliver it.
This is not beyond us - we've all been talking for a long time about how to deliver but the time for talking is over. It's time to lace up our trainers and get it done.