Australia’s open banking journey on the right track

AusPayNet’s incoming CEO Andy White said that Australia’s open banking was on the right track at a forum held at Sydney’s Stone & Chalk fintech hub on 20 February 2019.

Mr White is a member of the Advisory Committee helping Australia's Data Standards Body design technical standards to support Australia’s Consumer Data Right, which will enable Australian consumers to share data – including banking data – safely and securely.

Mr White said the Australian Government made the right decision when it announced, just before Christmas, to defer the formal introduction of the reform from July 2019 to February 2020. Instead, from July 2019, a pilot project will take place to test the performance, reliability and security of the open banking system.

“I am yet to hear anything negative about that deferral, or the introduction of a pilot program, because everyone wants this to succeed; everyone wants the initial customer experience of open data to be a positive one,” Mr White said.

Mr White noted however there was debate about the timing of the introduction of open banking for smaller banks.

Under the government’s timetable, Australia’s four largest banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac) will begin sharing consumer data in February 2020, compared to February 2021 for all other banks. 

“What we hear from some of the other banks is that they would like to be in earlier…and that is a point we have raised with regulators,” Mr White emphasised.

In addition, Mr White suggested that a logical extension of open banking standards in, for example, Australia and the UK is an international framework.

“One thing that really interests me is how you optimise this internationally,” he said. “Broadly in Australia, we are following the UK model, and I think this is a good thing.” 

“But if you think of genuine innovation, you will want to enable Australian innovators to benefit from data overseas, and the Australian economy to benefit from overseas innovators who want to share data in Australia, and that needs some type of international standard, particularly around accreditation,” he said.

Mr White noted that the objective of the Australian approach to open data was to deliver a consumer-centred data right across a range of sectors, with financial services being the first sector followed by energy and telecommunications.

He said this represented a sound policy platform, which should benefit consumers across a range of sectors. He noted that representatives from the energy and telecommunications sector were already sitting on the Data Standards Body Advisory Committee.

Following his keynote address, Mr White then took part in a panel discussion involving Alex Ortner, a senior associate from law firm Allens, Dermot McCann from data sharing consent management firm Priviti Group, and Professor Pinar Ozcan from England’s Warwick Business School.

The group discussed a range of issues, including:

  • The need for the consumer consent process to be both robust and granular but also have an excellent user experience
  • The need for open banking to be accompanied by a well-resourced education campaign.
  • Emerging use cases for open banking, including in areas such as loyalty and rewards, insurance and personal finance management.

 Andy White is AusPayNet’s Chief Operating Officer and begins as CEO on 1 March 2019.