The initiative was meant to enable an ecosystem of competitive fintech services, but its stately progress over the past five years has left many in the sector disappointed. What needs to change?
Open banking arrived in the UK in 2018 as an initiative aimed at boosting competition in financial services. The country’s eight largest retail banks and the Nationwide Building Society were required to set up application programming interfaces (APIs) enabling customers to share their current account data with third-party fintech firms. The idea was that this would allow them to access a range of innovative services – particularly in payments – without having to open new accounts.
But five years on, open banking remains relatively niche in terms of uptake. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reports that there are just over “7 million active users”, which is a long way short of the total the industry had hoped for.
In a bid to improve the situation last year, the government convened the Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee (JROC), co-chaired by the FCA and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). The committee, which published its recommendations for the next phase of open banking this April, hopes that there will be “industry action and strong regulatory direction”.