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  • Writer's pictureIAMTN

Open Banking: short history, long future

In the four years since Open Banking launched, 4.5 million people in the UK alone have started using Open Banking products regularly, with that number increasing every month. So, how have we got here? And more importantly, where do we go next? We have barely scratched the surface of what Open Banking is capable of - there is plenty more to come.

Open Banking: where are we today? Introduced to trigger more innovation and competition within finance, Open Banking has allowed third-party businesses to access personal bank account data (Account Information Services) and initiate payments directly from bank accounts (Payment Initiation Services), providing they have the customer’s consent. We’ve seen businesses take advantage of this in a number of interesting ways over recent years: Debt resolution: Open Banking can be used to help customers manage and resolve their debt. Experian partnered with CreditFix to offer an AISP which looks at a customer’s bank account data and assesses their financial circumstances, before providing advice on how to change their behaviour to reduce their debt. Before this service was launched, CreditFix advisors would need to interview customers in-person or receive paper bank statements to paint a picture of their financial situation. This was not only time-consuming but an ineffective process, often resulting in an inaccurate or incomplete version of a customer’s financial status. With Open Banking, they can see the full picture instantaneously. Accounting: Accounting software such as QuickBooks takes advantage of Open Banking by automating accounting processes for small businesses. Another example of an AISP, Quickbooks’ Open Banking integration allows users to categorise all transactions as “business” or “personal” and even helps them prepare their Self Assessment for HMRC. This enables business owners to save time and make fewer mistakes without paying high fees for an accountant. Personal saving: UK app Plum acts as both an AISP and PISP, analysing a user’s bank account information before routinely transferring an appropriate amount to a savings account on their behalf. The amount saved can be tweaked by the user or left to Plum’s AI, and users can set up multiple pots to save for special events such as holidays. The automation of this transfer is a huge draw. People have been able to set up separate accounts and savings pots for years, but not needing to fight temptation makes goals more achievable. What does the future look like for Open Banking? As the examples above show, Open Banking has enabled innovative products and services to flourish, but what does the future hold? In a single phrase: ‘opening up’. We’re going to see new applications for Open Banking in an ever widening range of fields. Two of these emerging frontiers in the advancement of Open Banking are cryptocurrency and investment services.

Open Banking and cryptocurrency: For a while Open Banking was seen as a rival to cryptocurrency. It offered innovation within payments without abandoning traditional payment rails. But as everyone knows, crypto offers so much more than this, so Open Banking providers and cryptocurrency companies should be looking at partnerships. Klarna’s collaboration with Swedish cryptocurrency broker Safello is one example. Using Klarna’s Open Banking, Safello’s 180,000 users can purchase cryptocurrency directly from their bank account in a quick, easy and native experience. Innovation such as this will help develop cryptocurrency, not hinder it. Open Banking and investment: Investment companies can be big beneficiaries of Open Banking, and Wealthify’s partnership with Tink is already blazing this trail. Tink is a PISP which makes transfering funds for investment a far quicker and easier process for Wealthify users. They expect the number of users to double to 100,000 within 12 months and have noted “The customer response has already been brilliant, and our partnership enables us to make more of our customers' money work harder, by maintaining our market-leading low fees.” From Open Banking to embedded finance Our final prediction for the future of Open Banking is that it will act as a stepping stone to embedded finance. As Open Banking becomes commonplace, consumers will not only be comfortable linking their personal account data to other services, they will expect it. A native, all-in-one experience that includes their bank (either account data or payment processing) will become so seamless, having to handle finances separately will be considered frustrating and antiquated. Embedded finance makes that possible. Short-term loans can be offered by clothing sites, investment opportunities may appear when shopping for groceries. It’s down to what the business thinks is right for their customers. Crucially, this is all done within the site itself, without partnering with multiple providers at high costs. This is exactly the type of service OpenPayd offers - enabling businesses from all industries to enhance their offering and change the way we experience financial services.

- Open Banking has enjoyed an impressive rise, but we are confident that the best is yet to come. Most importantly, it, along with embedded finance, is helping drive finance forward, providing better products and services for businesses and consumers. We’re already looking forward to writing about its achievements in 2022.

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