Is Open Banking being hobbled by outages?

Is Open Banking being hobbled by outages?

The UK's Open Banking revolution is being hampered by outages that banks are taking weeks to fix, according to figures from SME lender Growth Street - an analysis that has been categorically refuted by the Open Banking standards setter.

Using the Open Banking Implementation Entity's API Downtime monitoring tool, Growth Street has calculated that Open Banking was only available 83% of the time in the first quarter of 2019. This means that for 5000 hours Open Banking customers (both business and consumer) were unable to access some integration features.

HSBC appears to have the worst access time, dropping from 98% availability in Q4 2018 to 20% in Q1 2019 due to a series of long-running intermittent outages. Nationwide saw the greatest improvement, raising availability from 78% to 96% over the same period. In total, there were 159 outages during the first quarter and banks are not fixing problems quickly, with an average service down time of six weeks.

Greg Carter, CEO, Growth Street, says: "Banks talk a good game on open banking, but the raw data shows a very different picture."

However, the OBIE has refuted the results as presented by Growth Street as "misleading and inaccurate".

"Our published metrics data shows very clearly that the average API availability in Q1 2019 was never less than 96.97% availability," states the Open Banking overseer. “Each of the mandated banks submit their monthly availability and performance metrics to OBIE which we make every effort, as far as is possible, to verify before publishing. JIRA data and the monthly metrics submitted by the banks to OBIE are compiled in very different ways - essentially the JIRA downtime system acts as a control and notification system regarding availability (eg. Planned Downtime, which in some instances does not actually take place) and cannot be used in isolation of other reporting metrics deployed.

"There is always room for improvement in data analytics reporting, and this is something we are currently reviewing with an independent supplier; however, we believe that the performance data we publish each month gives an accurate snapshot of banks’ API availability and overall technical performance.”

HSBC has also pushed back against the Growth Street claims, telling Finextra: “We are confident in our Open Banking infrastructure, with Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) reporting showing HSBC’s average API availability as 99.3% for Q1 this year. HSBC UK has embraced Open Banking, bringing the benefits to our customers with innovations such as Connected Money, Artha by first direct, and more.”

There are, however, other signs that some banks are not doing all they can to make Open Banking a success. The Competition and Markets Authority recently reprimanded five lenders for dragging their heels over the delivery of Open Banking functionality within their apps, while last month a report published by Finextra and authored by API performance monitoring specialists, APImetrics, singled out Barclays, Lloyds and Santander as failing to deliver adequate service levels.

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Comments: (2)

Anthony Walton
Anthony Walton - Iliad Solutions - Leeds 23 May, 2019, 15:301 like 1 like

This is going to age me !  When I started working in payments in the early 1990's everything and I mean everything had to be available 5 9's.  Thats 99.999% uptime, now it seems acceptable to hit 1 9, less than 90%. Have we lost the engineering expertise to build fault tolerant solutions or are we just "bolting" a lot of new technology onto fundamemtally incompatible "Legacy" systems ?

Vladimir Dimitroff
Vladimir Dimitroff - Synpulse UK Ltd - London 24 May, 2019, 05:58Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I am shocked, too, by the low levels nowadays casually accepted as 'normal'. Back in the 5 9s days there were always and everywhere readily available fallback options with 'analogue' (paper and manual work) alternatives in the back office and teller-populated brick-and-mortar branches for the consumer to walk into. With total digitalisation today (and, we try to say, the future is digital) availability averages and no 'analogue' plan B mean a totally paralysed financial ecosphere, and therefore - paralysed economy and society. This is major disaster or wartime air bombardment!

Imagine casually boarding a plane to your holiday destination with the airline telling you with a smile!) "It's OK, we have great performance - 90% of flights don't crash, welcome on board! :) "  Banks and bodies like OBIE are trying to persuade us we should be happy...

Also: can someone, please, explain these striking difference in claimed performance based on the very same (!!!) data source???

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