Tuesday, 16 October 2018 21:32

Warning Australia’s open banking plan has ‘substantial weaknesses’

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Warning Australia’s open banking plan has ‘substantial weaknesses’ Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Global corporate lending platform Trade Ledger says it has warned the Australian Government of substantial weaknesses in its proposed Open Banking implementation plan, when compared to the global best-practice model.

Trade Ledger claims the Federal Government’s open banking plans primarily include the lack of an independent implementation and governance organisation, and limited consumer and SME representation in the development of industry standards.

According to the Australian-based global fintech, these omissions risk a scaremongering campaign around data security that could stall progress and reduce the scope of the changes, leaving the door open for overseas financial markets to take over local markets when open banking arrives.

“Open banking has the potential to revolutionise the Australian financial landscape – which is to say, the Australian economy as a whole,” said Trade Ledger co-founder and chief executive Martin McCann.

“Businesses and consumers could gain real-time control of their own financial information, allowing them to evaluate financial products from multiple lenders, and switch instantaneously to a better deal. Currently, only 2% of bank customers switch products, despite the fact [that] most could access a better deal.

“Unlocking a veritable treasure trove of bank customer data and placing it in the hands of technology-driven fintechs could also bring forth all manner of new and exciting financial products and processes that could change the way we transact forever.

“However, it’s my fear that we may not see this array of potential benefits by not learning from the best practices and mistakes of the UK, the only country to have already implemented open banking.”

McCann said that in the UK, the banks were made to pay for implementation of open banking under law; this incentivised them to act rapidly and efficiently.

“The UK also set up a range of trade and consumer lobby groups to balance the power of the incumbent institutions, and a governance body with unprecedented powers to compel all parties to work in the national interest.

“So far, Australia does not have most of this in its implementation plans.”

McCann pointed to the fact that Open Banking Review chairman Scott Farrell specifically recommended that Australia use the UK Open Banking technical specification as a “starting point” for developing Australia’s technical standards.

And, he said Prime Minister Scott Morrison also stated that Australia could become a global leader in open banking in his recent Australian Fintech Awards dinner speech.

“This is a once-in-a-generation transformation on the global banking industry, driven by governments around the world legislating adoption of disruptive technology,” McCann said.

“However, given the fact that digital banking services don’t observe national borders, the consequences of getting this wrong could be catastrophic for our local industry.

“It could mean a shift away from a local-banks-versus-fintechs stand-off, and instead Australia might find itself competing against a whole hoard of unstoppable open banking entrants from overseas – an absolute tragedy for Australian financial services.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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