Select Page

5 Lessons on Open Banking from Imran Gulamhuseinwala

by | Nov 20, 2018

The ID Co. were delighted to welcome Imran Gulamhuseinwala OBE, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) to speak on his learnings with Open Banking over the course of the last two years. During a superb presentation, Gulamhuseinwala was clear on how the Open Banking journey has progressed, where the challenges are, and how Open Banking is taking hold throughout the globe. 

 

International  

As we at the ID Co. have been reporting for several weeks there is an undeniable surge in interest in implementing Open Banking from across the globe. 

As Head of OBIE in the UK, the country that has done more with Open Banking than any other, Gulamhuseinwala is ideally situated to discuss the progress of Open Banking throughout the world. He mentioned a wealth of countries that are currently examining the UK’s progress and considering their own implementations. These include Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel, Nigeria, Mexico and Brazil. 

He made particular reference to Australia which is working towards Open Banking being live by the summer of 2019. The Australians will be implementing a data-led version, which will differ from the UK’s approach. This goes beyond current accounts – where the focus remains in the UK – and takes into consideration mortgages and savings. In the next phase Australia will then move into utilities such as water, telco and power. This Gulamhuseinwala said will “bring further innovation”, “competition to the market” and “power for consumers”. 

Gulamhuseinwala also remarked on the current state of Open Banking in the United States. While there has been an absence of leadership from the regulator, financial institutions are leading with a commercial led version of Open Banking. This has been highlighted over the last week with the creation of the Financial Data Exchange in the US, incorporating a number of prominent banks and FinTech’s to securely share data. 

The differences in how the UK and Europe are implementing Open Banking are also worth expounding on.  

Gulamhuseinwala explained that while the UK had implemented standardised and mandated Open Banking, in Europe it is only mandated. This could potentially lead to many thousands of banks creating their own APIs for use. Recognising the difficulties this could pose, European authorities are now discussing how to “reverse engineer” standards into regulations.  

Importantly, the reason the UK decided on utilising standards is that it drops the barriers to entry. Where these barriers are lowered, it allows for more actors to join the ecosystem, thus creating more innovation leading directly to enhanced consumer choice.  

 

Consumer impact 

As Open Banking continues to flourish in the UK, consumers – more and more – will begin to feel the benefit. While Gulamhuseinwala was happy to concede consumers don’t yet understand what it is, or how it will impact upon them, the premise is familiar to them. “Anyone who has used Uber can understand how Open Banking works” he explained. Fundamentally, Open Banking is an enabling technology. It doesn’t have a direct customer proposition but does allow for propositions to be brought to the market.  

The UK’s early entry into the market and use of a standardised and mandated system said Gulamhuseinwala, make the UK a clear leader in the use of Open Banking which will reap benefits for UK consumers now and in the future.

Open Banking, Gulamhuseinwala explained, can be summed up thus: 

“Open Banking is a secure technology, for a consumer or SME to safely share their information with an authorised third party. Open Banking also gives that authorised third party permission to execute a transaction.” 

He also explained the more Open Banking is adopted by the major financial institutions, consumer trust and adoption will grow. Naturally, most consumers are more trusting of a major high-street bank than a FinTech. He cited Barclay’s taking out a newspaper advert on their account aggregation services as a recent example of adoption by the big banks. 

 

Security 

Undoubtedly there has been some reticence from consumers on granting access to their bank accounts to third party providers (TPPs). As we know however, Open Banking is far more secure than screen scraping (where an app logs into your bank account as you).

Recognising consumer trust will be critical for the success of Open Banking, Gulamhuseinwala explained how the OBIE has built safety and security into the very heart of Open Banking. He outlined six key ways consumers can have trust in TPPs and in the Open Banking system.  

  1. It is opt-in only 
  2. Customers are never asked for their bank log-in details, which are used solely to log-in to online banking 
  3. Customers have to give explicit consent to agree to use Open Banking
  4. It is as easy to revoke permission as it is to give permission 
  5. Only authorised third parties can enter the infrastructure   
  6. A customer redress mechanism has been built whereby complaints can be heard by the entire ecosystem 

2019: The year of Open Banking? 

OBIE has planned out four releases in their roadmap to update and enhance the capabilities of Open Banking. Release one was the minimum viable product, and the second was released in September. Gulamhuseinwala highlighted the impact the second release has already had on the user journey, which brought the consent journey from an average of three and a half minutes to complete down to fifteen seconds. OBIE is therefore on target to be half way to full implementation by the end of the calendar year. 

Challenges 

Gulamhuseinwala was candid in some of the challenges the OBIE have faced in their implementation of Open Banking. While initially believing that the bulk of the challenges would be technical in nature, they have proved to be more comprehensive. It has proved to be as much about customer experience standards as technical standards. 

On the reticence of the banks, Gulamhuseinwala was also frank. Industry experts generally thought if the standards were implemented and mandated then the banks would implement them. As we saw in January however, when the bulk of the CMA9 were not prepared for the implementation date, more work was required. OBIE has now countered this by having the bulk of its team work directly with banks to ensure all future releases are ready for the allocated date. Sentiment from the banks is also changing, and they are beginning to see direct benefits from Open Banking, particularly through the use of potential commercial APIs and enhanced customer experience. 

 

Wrap 

In a comprehensive overview of Open Banking in 2018 Gulamhuseinwala was clear on what the successes of Open Banking have been, while also recognising the challenges faced. While Open Banking has made steady headway in the UK, and progress being closely monitored by several states across the world, challenges around customer adoption and initial hesitation from the major banks have both posed challenges. 

The UK’s early entry into the market and use of a standardised and mandated system said Gulamhuseinwala, make the UK a clear leader in the use of Open Banking which will reap benefits for UK consumers now and in the future. 

Check out our other blog posts.

Frictionless Finance Report – Wednesday, 05 December

Welcome to the Frictionless Finance Report, our bi-weekly look at everything new in the world of Open Banking, FinTech and consumer experience. If you’d like to receive this in your inbox every other Wednesday, simply fill in the form at the bottom of the page. This...

read more

Frictionless Finance Report – Wednesday, 21 November

Welcome to the Frictionless Finance Report, our bi-weekly look at everything that’s new in the world of Open Banking, FinTech and consumer experience. If you’d like to receive this in your inbox every other Wednesday, simply fill in the form at the bottom of the page....

read more

Lessons in FinTech From Three FinTech Founders

The journey for any young FinTech company is never smooth, with endless bumps and divots, pivots to new markets and products and changes in personnel.  Three burgeoning Scottish firms were pleased to share their experiences in founding and growing a FinTech. Andy...

read more

Get the Frictionless Finance Report sent straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter below and we’ll send you the latest news from the #fintech industry as The ID Co. and others work to break down barriers and create frictionless finance solutions.