Voice of the Industry

Taking stock of Open Banking Expo UK

Friday 17 December 2021 08:42 CET | Editor: Oana Ifrim | Voice of the industry

Ellie Duncan, head of content at Open Banking Expo, summarises the key messages shared at Open Banking Expo UK Confex in London on 4 November 2021

Open Banking in the UK is an industry built on partnerships and collaborations – that was truly in evidence at the Open Banking Expo UK Confex in London on 4 November. Banks, fintechs and organisations that thrive on working together, finally gathered in person for the first time in almost two years.

The anticipation was palpable as delegates streamed into the Business Design Centre and took their places for the opening remarks from Todd Clyde, CEO of the headline event partner Token.

He set the scene for what was to be a packed agenda of panel debates, fireside chats, keynotes, and exclusive announcements and launches across four stages run in partnership with Token, Tink, Volt and Bottomline Technologies.

The potential in payments

The future of Open Banking payments was the talk of the Confex, given that the January 2022 deadline set by the Competition and Markets Authority for implementing variable recurring payments (VRPs) through sweeping by the nine largest banks in the UK, or the CMA9, is looming.

During the first panel debate of the day about the potential for VRPs, which took place on the main stage, Helen Bierton, chief banking officer at Starling Bank, emphasised the need to have the right use cases for the right reason to ensure they can engage customers. 

Sujata Bhatia, chief operating officer at Monzo, said it was important that Open Banking changes the way vulnerable customers are identified and helped, while RBS Group’s head of Open Banking Dan Globerson highlighted the need for compelling propositions to make sure that consumers and businesses feel comfortable about sharing their data.

In another panel debate later in the day on the main stage, NatWest Group’s regulation and standards lead, bank of APIs Stephen Wright said that the “timing is right” for VRPs and sweeping. Wright was on a panel moderated by Alan Ainsworth, head of policy, legal and communications, at the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE).

Wright said of the mandate that “it’s something we’ve known has been coming for a while”. 

“I feel that the industry and the ecosystem is mature enough to do it now. I think if you tried to put this in back in 2017/2018 as part of the Order it wouldn’t be as successful,” he said. 

“So, I think the timing is right. We do see this as both a mandatory obligation but also as a commercial opportunity.”
In her keynote address on the future of payments, Marion King, director of payments at NatWest Group, painted a picture of the year 2030, in which 80% of consumers use digital ID and banks have modern payment architecture. 

She predicted that by 2030 fraud will be managed by a national regulatory framework, bank branches will become digital financial support centres and cross-border payments will be “as easy as sending an email”.

Making Open Banking work

It wasn’t just payments that were under scrutiny at the Confex, other aspects of Open Banking were also in the spotlight.
A panel debate on ‘Global developments in Open Banking’ on Stage Two brought together executives from Klarna, Open Vector, HSBC UK and the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA).

Moderator Melisande Mual, managing director of The Paypers, asked the panellists to identify the pros and cons of “regulatory versus market-led or hybrid” Open Banking initiatives.

Gavin Littlejohn, chair of FDATA, said: “If the regulation is delivered through rigid legislation it becomes inflexible and doesn’t move as fast as technology, and quite often gets left behind. In the market-led approaches… this is about innovation and competition to drive better customer outcomes, and that can only happen if you have a right as a market participant to be in the market.”

He added: “But it must have some form of regulation, otherwise companies can choose not to participate.”
Wilko Klaassen, VP for Open Banking, direct bank transfer and Sofort at Klarna, also agreed that there needs to be a “standard” for Open Banking to work.

Open Vector’s Carlos Figueredo said that in Latin America, the approach has been very different.

“What LatAm is doing really well is that they’re understanding and weighing the possibilities. There’s a huge amount of interaction between the banks and fintechs. They really understand the benefit of Open Banking and moving quickly into open finance,” he added.

Maintaining momentum

I conducted a number of video interviews with speakers and attendees throughout the day at the Confex and the same themes kept cropping up – the enduring benefits of collaboration, why payments will continue to be the big story of 2022 and an ecosystem that demonstrated its ability to innovate even during the pandemic. 

There were also practical suggestions to ensure that the momentum and ideas that emerged are converted into actionable steps long after the event.

By the time that newly appointed OBIE trustee Charlotte Crosswell took to the stage to close the Confex, the overwhelming feeling was of an industry back where it belongs. 

About Ellie Duncan 

Former Financial Times Group journalist Ellie Duncan has a decade of experience across financial services and is best known for writing and broadcasting about open banking and asset management. Ellie regularly writes for Open Banking Expo, covering the latest fundraising, partnership and regulatory news, and interviews industry executives and fintech innovators for Open Banking Expo TV and the 'Unplugged' podcast series.

About Open Banking Expo 

Open Banking Expo is a global community of Open Banking executives responsible for digital transformation across financial services. The brand organises face-to-face and virtual events for the UK, North America, LatAm and European markets and produces industry webcasts, TV episodes and podcasts. Open Banking Expo curates the largest online news resource dedicated to Open Banking and Open Finance. It also hosts the Open Banking Expo Hub, an extensive directory of organisations powering Open Finance across the globe. 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/OpenBankingExpo
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/open-banking-expo/ 


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Keywords: Open Banking, banks, fintech
Categories: Banking & Fintech | Online & Mobile Banking
Countries: United Kingdom
This article is part of category

Banking & Fintech