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Formation of JROC Is Leaving UK Open Banking on a Cliff’s Edge

A group of prominent fintechs, including Wise, Monzo and Moneyhub, have signed an open letter calling for clarity on the future of open banking in the UK.

Concerns for UK open banking have been raised in two letters delivered this week to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). Though identical, the letters were written by the Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) and signed by the trade association FDATA alongside 17 fintechs.

The letters are a direct response to an update posted by HM Treasury, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), FCA and the PSR on 16 December. This announcement confirmed the formation of the Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee (JROC) to ‘build on the success of open banking’.

The statement defined the committee’s objectives as to develop ‘the vision for the future of open banking’ and to ‘make recommendations on the design of the future open banking entity’.

The 16 December joint statement explores what a successor to the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) might look like. Formed in 2017 by the UK’s nine biggest banks to implement open banking, the OBIE has firmly established open banking in the UK.

What work it has completed will now fall under the remit of the JROC as it takes the reins in the new year.

But four days after the JROC announcement, Coadec indicated that the future of UK open banking is still lacking clarity.

Coadec’s response

“We…write to express our concern at the lack of progress in confirming the future governance arrangements for the continued enforcement of open banking regulations,” opens the letter.

It continues by first recognising the undisputed success of open banking in the UK so far. It describes it as “one the greatest successes of innovative financial services policy in the UK in recent years.” And this statement is not untrue. 

Currently in use by around six million UK consumers, open banking has increased competition and enhanced money management while providing an entirely new facet to the fintech industry. Likewise, the UK’s open banking policy has served as a blueprint for similar implementations seen in the international market.

But as the open letter makes clear, the wind in the UK’s open banking sails is beginning to wear out.

“Where once we were the envy of the world,” it reads, “the future of our open banking ecosystem is now uncertain.”

While the OBIE begins to tie up its operations, the letter voiced concern about the lack of direction realised by the JROC. It specifically questions the longevity of the 2017 CMA Order without the existence of the OBIE.

“The update…did little to assuage our concerns that the integrity and potential of open banking is at risk.”

Coadec is calling on the JROC to “publish clear directions and timelines for the continued enforcement of Open Banking in 2023 and beyond.”

“Crucially, this clarity is required to provide certainty for firms, consumers and investors, and will then enable meaningful discussion and deliberation on the development of open banking beyond the 2017 CMA Order,” the letter continues. 

“To that end, we also endorse the expedition of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill. The passage of this legislation is critical for the future integrity of open banking and smart data going forward.”

The undersigned

As the ink of this letter is only just dry, a response from JROC is still pending. However, the signatories display a large and powerful community of UK financial players.

Signing parties include the aforementioned Monzo, Moneyhub and Wise, but also include Snoop, Sprive and Credit Canary.

Luke Kosky, Fintech Policy Lead at Coadec UK Open Banking
Luke Kosky, fintech policy lead, Coadec

“We’ve written this letter and convened a great group of fintech supporters to call on the JROC to speed up,” says Luke Kosky, fintech policy lead at Coadec.

“When we look back on the last twelve months, it’s hard to point to concrete progress in our world-leading open banking regime.

“While an undeniable challenge, defining the future governance of open banking is a critical next step, but it is taking too long,” concludes Kosky. 

Scott Mowbray, co-founder and CCO at Snoop, adds that although a policy success with over six million users, “the potential for open banking and open finance affords the UK a far greater opportunity.”

“The stepping-stone approach to regulation needs to stop so we can move forward at pace, drive investment and innovation in the sector,” comments Mowbray.

According to Sprive CEO, Jinesh Vohra, “It’s really important for businesses like Sprive, who are powered by open banking technology, to get assurances that the 2017 CMA Order will be continued to be enforced.

“It’s great to see the fintech community come together and speak with one voice as we all push for clarity.”

Signatory Ben Nadel, the co-founder of Credit Canary, concludes with: “Serving banks and fintechs we see strong consensus over the need for open finance regulation that builds on the success of the open banking framework in place today.”

Read more: What’s next after the OBIE?

Author

  • Tyler is a fintech journalist with specific interests in online banking and emerging AI technologies. He began his career writing with a plethora of national and international publications.

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