Welcome to the Frictionless Finance Report, our monthly look at everything new in the world of Open Banking, FinTech, and consumer experience. If you’d like to receive this in your inbox, fill in the form at the bottom of the page. This month we examine whether all companies should consider becoming a FinTech, the race to digitalisation, and the launch of Open Banking in Australia.
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As the UK alongside all other major economies continue to suffer the fall-out from continued exposure to the global pandemic, experts and pundits continue to discover how Open Banking can help both consumers and businesses through the financial crisis.
This week in the Frictionless Finance Report, we cover articles which consider a range of different use-cases, all of which can support the economy. We examine Open Banking’s uses across payments, how it can help consumers save, and its impact upon merchants, amongst others.
First up, two articles in pymnts.com, that explores Open Banking’s impact upon the payments sector. While the former discusses many of the potential benefits to be found from using Open Banking in payments, such as having better access to analytics, frictionless access to invoices and accounting platforms; the latter goes on to discuss the importance of APIs through the payments process.
Alessandro Petroni, head of financial services strategy at Red Hat said:
Banks that are offering services through APIs should first focus on tangible benefits that their customers will receive. This includes early recruitment of third-party applications and services that demonstrate concrete value for their customers. They will need to build awareness through both promotion and education.
The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a detrimental effect on the personal finances of many thousands, if not millions, of Brits. Speaking to AltFi, Andries Smit of Upside, discusses how Open Banking could yet help the population save money.
Saving needs to be as frictionless as possible, and Open Banking is one way that could help individuals save with minimal effort. Indeed, there are a number of apps. already on the market that help savers in just this way.
The role that Open Banking can play in the support offered to business, has also been highlighted by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Maha El Dimachki, head of payments at the FCA said:
... We have also seen open banking being used to help consumers and businesses during the crisis, for instance, to facilitate evidencing revenues for self-employed [individuals]. In addition, a number of these firms have lifted fees to help their customers or facilitated the use of open banking, such as payment initiation, for making donations to charities.
There have been a number of articles written over the last month that highlight the distance that Open Banking has travelled over the last two years. This is highlighted in articles this month in Global Banking & Finance, FinTech Futures and Finextra.
These three articles give a mixed review of the distance travelled. FinTech Futures, while noting the volume of API calls that are now being made through Open Banking, has a somewhat pessimistic note which focuses on the reticence of the big banks to fully embrace Open Banking.
Global Banking & Finance focus on Open banking from the perspective of the consumer, and, like FinTech Futures, pays particular note of the introduction of the Open banking app store, launched last month by the OBIE. This article argues that is necessary for banks to embrace the concept, and the insights that they can gain on their customers. AI, machine learning and big data will be key to succeed at this.
Finally, Finextra ask whether banks, and those working within banks have the required foresight and knowledge to truly understand what it is that customers want, and then be able to implement this to satisfy that need.
Best of the rest in Open Banking:
- Could Open Banking be the panacea that all stressed out Marketer’s need? Finance Derivative explores further.
- Experian discuss the move from Open Banking to Open Finance in AltFi
Open Banking Abroad
No question of where the big news abroad is, and that is in Australia, where Open Banking has officially gone live. Needless to say, there is plenty coverage to mark the moment. We also take in news for the United States and Korea.
Open Banking in Korea appears to have launched with a bang. Only launched in December of last year, there have been to date, over 20m subscriptions to Open Banking services, reports the Korea Herald. With an economically active population of just 28m people, this represents 72% of all people using Open Banking.
The US, like much of the rest of the world, is currently struggling to get on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, and says paymentsource, new tools such as Open Banking should be used to help companies and individuals, particularly as the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital. The problems faced in the US are outline din pymnts.com, however, with their interview with US Bank. In this interview, it is clear that legacy systems are still impeding this change to more digital resource.
Gareth Gaston from US Bank, said during the interview:
APIs themselves are actually not particularly complicated, but the challenge is in connecting that to the relevant back-end systems. Much of the industry is stuck on legacy platforms, so you have to find a way to connect that to your legacy platforms in a way that doesn’t create all sorts of internal issues for yourself.
There has been a veritable smorgasbord of articles that have reached us from Australia as Open Banking wen went live, courtesy of Consumer Data Rights (CDR) legislation. Open Banking was due to go live in January of this year, but was delayed until July 1st. As expected, there are many articles explaining what Open Banking is and the background to CDR, such as in Finextra, bluenotes, Australian FinTech and FinTech Times. Others stress the importance of creating competition in the market, which is particularly important in Australia due to the power of the big 4 banks, such as in CDO Trends and the Sydney Morning Herald. Finally, some pieces have examined some of the other sectors that will be impacted by Open Banking in Australia, such as energy and investments.
In much the similar vein that Open Banking has come to prominence during the coronavirus pandemic, there have been similar conversations happening within banks on moving to digital – and doing it now.
As we reported last month, the current situation has exacerbated many trends that were already underway, and the movement towards things happening digitally was at the very top of this list.
We know that traditionally banks have been one of the slowest sectors to update their systems and processes, and as a result, have felt the impact perhaps more than other sectors.
This has also been good for FinTech’s though, as they have been able to support and advise where required, especially on topics such as digital and Open Banking, where the FinTech community has real expertise.
This is highlighted well by two articles, both in the FT [paywall]. The first, from Wolfgang Munchau highlights how the shift from analogue to digital is progressing as a result of Covid-19 in society and economics, noting that big data will be of real importance in the future, and inflation measures look outdated.
The second, from Patrick Jenkins, focuses on the banking sector and its attempts to move towards digitalisation. He focuses on the relationship of the big banks and big tech, asking how this relationship has evolved, and what its likely endpoint will be.
Could the big banks go so far as to adopt open source technology in their attempts to become more digital? This question is posed by Techwire Asia. Open source tech poses a number of challenges, namely that it can be manipulated by hackers, however, it offers huge potential in innovation and lack of cost.
The financial services industry is now ready to relinquish these concerns, with any lingering doubts displaced by open source software’s major benefits in increasing innovation potential, reducing time to market, and the ability to attract and retain top tech talent in a hugely competitive hiring space.
As we have written on previously, the changes in the way that consumers spend their money has also changed – possibly forever. A new article from Techradar suggests that consumers will not go back to the use of cash after it is all done. Indeed, they suggest that services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay will only grow in popularity in the near future.
Nicolas Mackel, CEO of Luxembourg for Finance, said:
The switch to digital payments looks set to happen much quicker than the shift to cards did in the past. The method of payment is becoming less important than the platform used, to the extent of becoming invisible.
Best of the rest in finance:
💥 The Bank of Japan is currently considering the introduction of a digital currency
💥 The New York Times examines the disappearance of cash from American streets
💥 Sifted consider whether consumers are ready to pay for offerings such as Monzo’s premium services?
We at DirectID were delighted to hear the news this month that the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence (GOFCoE) is to be established in Edinburgh after the award of £22.5m from UK Research & Innovation. The Centre of Excellence has been borne out of collaborative work between the University of Edinburgh, FDATA, FinTech Scotland and Scottish Enterprise. Further news on the launch can be found on FinTech Scotland, Edinburgh University website, Finextra and Daily Business Group.
The growth in FinTech as a result of the Covid crisis has spawned much commentary. City AM have looked at some of the various ways that FinTech’s can help consumers, while Tapscape put it into the context of the ubiquity of the mobile phone. As there is almost nothing that cannot be done on a mobile, why shouldn’t technology and FinTech companies flourish in this time of technological advance. Finally, FinTech Futures ponder whether there are so many benefits to being a FinTech company – that every company should consider becoming one.
Best of the rest in FinTech:
💻 Our team are very excited about the next webinar we have announced. Titled Intelligent SME Portfolio Management with Bank Data. Taking place next Monday, the 27th July at 2pm GMT, we have already set new registration numbers for this webinar. We hope that you can join us, but if you are interested but can’t make the time or date, remember to subscribe and a recording will be emailed to you within hours of the webinar finishing!
We’d also ask you to watch closely our web and social channels the following day, Tuesday 28th July, as we have a big announcement forthcoming!
That’s all for this week. As ever, do let us know any thoughts or comments. We’re available through our social channels and on email – firstname.lastname@example.org.