As I illustrated in my last post, there are already plenty of examples of open data innovations being used to help with the unprecedented disruption and uncertainty that the COVID-19 crisis has caused. The question now is: What’s next for Open Banking and open data more broadly?

What the COVID-19 lockdowns have certainly given us is an absolute imperative to enable digital services and we’ve seen many consumers adopt these digital services at a faster pace than prior to the crisis.

This presents a real opportunity for further digital adoption, smarter services and lower operational costs. However, it needs to be pursued with caution and care, as not all customers are currently served digitally. In addition, whilst consumers are becoming more aware of the support that is available through use of their data, so are their concerns growing about its misuse and unintended consequences. For example, Martin Lewis recently cautioned that Open Banking could make things more difficult for consumers who take advantage of payment holidays. Despite assurances by creditors that the concession will not lower the borrower’s credit rating, it would be visible to potential future lenders who may interpret it as an inability to meet payments.

To help consumers in their time of need…

Financial products based on shared account transaction data have matured significantly in recent years, and can now provide much-promised ‘money saving’ features at a time when incomes are increasingly stretched for many consumers, e.g. Yolt’s partnership with MoneySupermarket for utility switching.

Open data provides even more promise beyond this. It has the potential to use government tax records to verify credit organisations’ lending decisions, or to provide more accurate switching information based on actual tariff data as advocated by Open Communications in the UK’s Smart Data initiative.

To help commercial customers at a time of critical cash flows…

With so many customers on payment holidays for their lines of credit, and with employment levels likely to remain under pressure for some time to come, organisations need to face the challenge of forecasting the future, so they can make appropriate provisions and evolve their customer propositions accordingly.

Open data supports this by providing access to real-time data rather than lagging indicators. Through increasingly advanced analysis and forecasting tools that use multiple sources of data, it is possible to use early warning indicators to identify actions needed in the future, e.g. merging transaction data, insolvency models, government-support-scheme criteria and industry sector analysis to anticipate the most appropriate support and the companies most likely to be impacted.


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Organisations won’t need to do all of this for themselves though. As we wrote in our recent blog, the industry is already rapidly and effectively defining and developing the tools for alliance partnerships that will be able to benefit customers at significant scale. For example, Cerebreon was successful in a recent fundraising effort and has rapidly developed its advanced debt-portfolio insights tool for creditors in partnership with Ducit.Ai’s transaction-analysis tools.

Whether operational, commercial or consumer-focused, with careful consideration for product design and positioning, it’s time for organisations to explore new customer-centric offerings enabled by the adoption of new technology and open data.

The good news is that this doesn’t just offer the benefit of short-term COVID-19 mitigation—the technology choices and customer experiences put in place now will form a basis for the medium term and therefore provide a foundation for transformation to come.

Organisations have been progressing for some time and accelerating change in response to COVID-19. The imperative now is to sustain that pace and support customers and commerce for the best possible outcomes in 2020 and beyond.


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