A business coalition led by John Penrose MP has urged the government to speed up Smart Data reforms – above that could make British exporters more competitive, stimulate investment in UK digital jobs and deliver better deals for consumers to help cut the cost of living.
Smart Data enables customers to safely share data (ie from their online groceries, energy or bank account) with other rival firms to see if they can offer a better deal. In 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) mandated the UK’s nine largest current account providers to enable their customers to safely and securely share their banking data.
There are currently over seven million regular users of open banking services, with this number continuing to grow. Smart Data legislation could see people take advantage of the concept across more markets; including the likes of groceries, telecoms and utilities.
In September 2020, Rishi Sunak (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) commissioned John Penrose MP to recommend improvements which would make UK businesses more competitive.
A number of leading businesses are supporting Penrose, and are calling for Britain’s world-leading digital success in open banking to be rolled out to industries beyond financial services as fast as possible. Other members of the coalition include NatWest, TISA, Financial Data and Technology Association, The Payments Association, Open Banking Excellence (OBE), as well as fintechs Ozone API and Icebreaker One.
Collectively, the business coalition has written to Ministers urging them to move faster with already-planned reforms, to prevent UK businesses from being overtaken by rival firms in other countries.
“Rivals in other countries won’t stand still”
Despite the fact that the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill includes provisions to introduce Smart Data reforms, it contains no guarantees or timetable on how fast the changes will be introduced in each business sector once they become law.
The business colation explained that UK business leaders require more certainty to begin investment programmes now, and modern digital firms have to move much, much faster than Westminster or Whitehall’s usual pace.
John Penrose, MP for Weston-Super-Mare and author of Sunak-commissioned report on UK competition policy said: “Open banking and smart data are already transforming UK banking, giving us all cheaper and better-value services even if we don’t realise it’s what lies behind the online financial apps and services so many of us are using nowadays.
“It has become a global UK success story, with British firms and exporters leading the way around the world. But rivals in other countries won’t stand still, so now we’ve got to roll the same success out across the rest of our economy to give us better deals and create world-leading firms in sectors like online retailing or energy too. The good news is that Government has the legislation on the table, but we need firm implementation plans and timetables from Ministers right away, so businesses can get cracking.”