The UK government's midata initiative has launched, enabling Brits to download their current account transactional data and put it into online tools that will help them find the most suitable providers.
Under the programme, bank customers will be able to dump a year's worth of their data into a Gocompare tool designed to give them detailed comparisons of which personal current account is best for them based on how they use their bank accounts.
The government says that by making it easier for people to see where they can get the best deals, banks will have to work harder to win and retain their customers.
Around 1.6 million people have switched their accounts since the seven-day current account switch guarantee scheme came into force in September 2013, but people are still reluctant to change bank accounts according to research from Gocompare.com, with 40% admitting that they have never switched.
Matt Sanders, Gocompare.com’s banking spokesman, says: "Midata is a much-needed development in the current account market. Many personal banking customers find themselves baffled by incentives, charges and interest payments, but don’t have the time to search through each account separately to see which is the best one for their circumstances. By using midata they can do this quickly, easily and accurately.”
Anthony Browne, chief executive, British Banker's Association, welcomed the initiative: "This is an exciting innovation that will give customers more help when searching for the best current account for them from more than 200 on the UK market. Harnessing this data should allow some of us to pay less for our banking and others to earn more interest on their money, as well as highlighting the range of offers, such as cash-back, that are available just now."
Although midata only launches today, the government is already looking to the next step in the open data revolution, setting out plans for an open API (application programing interface) standard in UK banking.
Such a standard would allow the development of third-party apps that are compatible with the systems of all UK banks, and that can securely use customer banking data, with their permission. This would improve on midata by being more user-friendly, taking into account a wider range of data, and being much more customisable.