New Zealand must fix faults before setting afloat Open Banking

There is scope to learn from the mistakes of the UK and Europe

Abhishek Mukherjee, Paresha Sinha and Paul David Richard Griffiths
Hamilton and Normandy (France), December 30, 2022

Traditional banks in New Zealand have long served as gatekeepers of customers’ data.

This is about to change with ‘Open Banking,’ set to arrive in New Zealand by 2024.

In essence, under Open Banking,  a traditional bank makes available client and transaction data to another financial service provider. This provider then uses the information to find the best deal for customers.

The government recently agreed to establish a Consumer Data Rights Framework (CDR), paving the way for Open Banking in New Zealand.

As the country prepares for this new way to do banking, we can learn a great deal from the experiences of Europe and the United Kingdom, particularly in relation to concerns over governance and the security of data.

The benefits of Open Banking

Open Banking is gaining global recognition as it helps integrate new financial service providers into the financial ecosystem, making it more sustainable, efficient, agile and innovative.

For someone with several accounts across different banks, Open Banking will allow them to check all their transactions in a single interface through account aggregator applications. The customer will then be able quickly to move funds between their accounts.

With the help of artificial intelligence, the same application can help customers organise their finances by suggesting financial products with better rates and conditions.

As far as small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are concerned, Open Banking enables them to control their cash flow better, reconcile payments and manage inventories. It also allows business owners to integrate their financial information with their accounting service provider.

But as we embark on this brave new world, what can we learn from the experiences of those countries that have already introduced Open Banking? Helpfully, there are two recent reports from the UK and Europe that illustrate some of the benefits and pitfalls of the process.

Open Banking emerged in July 2013 as a part of the European Commission’s revised Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) proposal. It is now a global initiative where the UK and continental Europe are seen as global leaders. In Europe alone, there are at least 410 third-party providers.

The UK experience

In May 2022, the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom published the results of an investigation into their Open Banking experience.

The Authority’s investigation raised concerns over corporate governance failures, the late delivery of accounts, management of conflicts, procurement, and value for money, and it identified the need for human resource improvements.

The issues are mainly related to governance failures at the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), which was charged with overseeing the implementation and the performance of Open Banking by the nine largest banks in the UK.

This governance structure led to too much power being vested in a single trustee, with insufficient checks and balances on their decisions. In addition, there were failings in the risk management system and internal controls.

The UK government has recognised the problem and is in the process of reinforcing the governance structure of the OBIE.

Public Consultation by EC

Recently, the European Commission held a public consultation on its 2013 directive and the commission’s work on Open Banking.

Most of the respondents were concerned about sharing financial data due to a lack of trust – stemming from concerns over privacy, data protection and digital security. There was a general sense of not being able to control how their data was used. About 84% of people responding to the public consultation believed there were security and privacy risks in giving service providers access to their data. About 57% of respondents believed financial service providers that hold their data only sometimes ask for consent before sharing that data with other financial or third-party service providers.

The need for clear regulation

The European and UK experience highlights the issues related to the implementation of Open Banking and public perception. The New Zealand government should carefully consider the governance and data security issues raised by the two reports.

It is crucial to develop an effective board oversight and risk management strategy. A consent management tool should be introduced to build trust and transparency. There should also be a high-level system in which all data holders and users are adequately monitored and supervised.

Implementing Open Banking in New Zealand should result in a shift of power from traditional banks towards a vigorous financial technology sector. It should also create an opportunity for traditional banks to innovate and become much more responsive to customer needs.

If we get it right, Open Banking will ultimately mean New Zealanders are better served by their financial system.

Abhishek Mukherjee is Lecturer in Accounting and Finance; Paresha Sinha is Associate Professor at the University of Waikato based in Hamilton. Paul David Richard Griffiths is Professor of Finance and Academic Director of Graduate Programme in Banking, Finance and Fintech at EM Normandie, University of La Havre, based in Normandy France. The above article and pictures have been published under Creative Commons Licence.

 

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