UK Government issues call to action on bank APIs

UK Government issues call to action on bank APIs

The UK Government is to launch a 'Call for Evidence' on how APIs could be used in banking to improve transparency and help customers compare financial services providers.

The call to action on bank APIs was among a raft of new initiatives outlined in the Chancellor's annual Autumn statement to Parliament.

The Government believes that open application programming interfaces "will enable financial technology companies to develop innovative solutions to allow customers to make better comparisons between different banks and financial products".

In a first step to improving transparency, HMRC Treasury has announced that Gocompare will be the first comparison website to use its midata tool to download customer bank data and pick the account best suited to individual consumer needs. Customers will be able to download a year's worth of their current account data in a single file that can be read by Gocompare and used to find the best service.

The Autumn Statement also signaled an upgrade to the seven-day Current Account Switch Service to include 99% of all SMEs and an extension of the redirection service to 36 months, with delivery scheduled for March 2015. In addition, the Chancellor has asked the Financial Conduct Authority to examine whether a five-day switching period would deliver significant benefits to consumers and advise on this question before Budget 2015.

The government also announced its intention to review financial regulation which currently stands in the way of institutional lending through P2P platforms and introduce a number of reforms to taxes to encourage more people into the alternative finance sector.

Comments: (8)

Paul Love
Paul Love - Konsentus - Nottingham 03 December, 2014, 16:481 like 1 like

After just 10 short years ... The Government believes that open application programming interfaces "will enable  financial technology companies to develop innovative solutions...."

It is good to hear that the government, who are keen to foster innovation and the start-up culture have finally woken up to the power of the API.

While the humble API is the way most systems built this century communicate, it seems that the govenrnmnt has just realised that it has a valuable role to play in wealth creation and defecit reduction (I may have added that part myself) 


David Birch
David Birch - Tomorrow's Transactions - London 03 December, 2014, 18:072 likes 2 likes

So, having spent a billion quid on a current account switching system that has _reduced_ the number of people changing back accounts, Baronet Osborne has decided to waste more of the FCAs time and money on it. There must be management consultants involved in this somehow.

P.S. Has anyone told the Treasury that the Commission is going to mandate bank APIs anyway and it's really nothing to do with them?

Chris Meggs
Chris Meggs - Chasm Management Limited - Ipswich 03 December, 2014, 18:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Oh the security aspects of this leave me reeling!
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 December, 2014, 08:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

However it comes about, and as long as security is taken seriously, it's extremely positive for the buzzing FinTech community to have a standardised way to plug into banks.  

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 December, 2014, 20:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes The business model we have devoloped that would deliver the API required also provides a platform that would deliver many other services and products that we gave seen being discussed in these hero ups recently. My concern is that the total package, even if delivered in phases, would be a step too far for the financial institutions their representative councils, regulators and the public's appetite for change and risk.
Lu Zurawski
Lu Zurawski - Lu Zurawski - London 08 December, 2014, 18:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes Nothing to be unhappy about here. As Pherrell Williams says (ahem) "It might seem crazy, but here comes some news, talking this and that. Give me all you’ve got, and don't hold back. … Because I am API…Clap along if you feel like API-ness is the truth”.
Denis Wicking
Denis Wicking - F C Consultants - Stowmarket 09 December, 2014, 10:01Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I get twitched by sloppy language. I remember the last century when APIs were the way programmes talked to one another on the same or in a cluster of machines. 

If they are talking about a set of messages, with a security architecture and a protocol for exchanging the messages, why don't they say so.

Meanwhile in a slightly different are, the proposed Payment Services Directive opens up the playing field, forcing banks to allow access to third party Payment Processors

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 20 May, 2015, 11:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Indeed, I think it is a basic understanding of how an API ecosystem can evolve around your business that is what is lacking.  It works on old tried and tested formulas that have worked for generations.  Build a road that makes your immediate life more easy and others will come and build wealth around you. APIs are technically simple, as are most good ideas.