Open Banking Around the World

See why Open Banking have such far-reaching appeal, and why nearly every region in the world is looking at implementing some form of it.

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The front runners 

In Europe, banks and many businesses are familiar with Open Banking because it is supported by legislation in the form of the Second Payment Services Directive, or PSD2. The regulation, which came into full effect in September 2019, is designed to increase innovation in payments and give consumers more choice and better control over their financial data. 

PSD2 also requires banks to support open interfaces so that consumers can make online payments directly from their bank accounts using regulated providers of online banking payments. 

This legislation has acted as a strong catalyst for Open Banking across Europe and use cases are on the rise as financial institutions, merchants and technology companies see opportunity to offer innovative, value-added services that create consumer ‘stickiness’. So far, examples include comparison services, credit scoring and, of course, the option for a consumer to pay for goods and services online directly from their bank account. This payment option is not just for e-commerce payments, but is also being taken up by e.g. credit providers and other financial services providers for both pay-ins and pay-outs (although payouts are only supported by a limited number of PISPs).

A growing global phenomenon

Europe is  certainly a front runner when it comes to Open Banking, supported by legislation, but also because of the general drive for innovation in some of the more mature markets. Sweden, for instance, is a leading hub for pioneering fintechs and has a strong push towards debit payments, rather than credit. Meanwhile, outside of the EU, many other countries are following suit and Open Banking is seeing a surge of interest and uptake around the world. 

The Open Banking journey in Europe is overseen by regulators, but this isn’t the case for every country looking to implement similar initiatives. While some are being supported by regulatory frameworks or common standards, other are more market-driven as more players across the ecosystem come to understand the benefits that Open Banking can deliver. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at each of the key geographies around the world to see how Open Banking progress and programmes are being implemented.

The Americas

Canada, Brazil and Mexico have all taken determined steps to define legislation that will drive Open Banking, but each is taking a slightly different approach. Canada intends to include payments initiation within its open banking remit, while Brazil is taking a more phased approach. In May 2020 Brazil rolled out its regulations, which enable licensed institutions to share customer data (with the customer’s permission). The central bank in Brazil has set out a phased timetable, which is set to be completed at the end of 2021 and it hopes to encourage a range of Open Banking initiatives, including comparison platforms, financial management tools and more customer-friendly payment initiation processes.
Meanwhile, in the US, legislation is more difficult because of the state-based legal and financial system. Despite this, many of the major banks are developing API-based services through partnerships, since they see the customer loyalty benefits of Open Banking as delivering competitive advantage.

Asia Pacific

Asia Pacific is an interesting region in terms of Open Banking, with a variety of different goals and challenges that are behind the initiatives in each country. However, the overriding view of Open Banking is very positive and there has been a flurry of corresponding activity in the past five years.

For instance, in a recent survey by Accenture, 39% of SMEs and 43% of large corporations in Asia Pacific said they already participate in Open Banking ecosystem platforms. Their top two aims were to access innovative banking services and to reduce the complexity and costs of connecting to banks. 

India introduced its Open Banking guidelines in 2016, making it one of the first countries in the world to launch regulation in support of Open Banking. There is a huge drive in India towards a cashless society and its Unified Payments Initiative (UPI) sits at the heart of this – and includes a payments initiation framework. By October 2019, UPI had 141 member banks, and had overseen more than a billion transactions.

Open Banking in Japan is underpinned by a legal framework very similar to PSD2, which was introduced in May 2017, but the push towards Open Banking is still very much a collaborative industry effort and there are set to be at least 80 banks supporting open APIs in 2020.

In February 2020, Australia finalised its much-anticipated ‘Consumer Data Right’ (CDR) regulations, which pave the way for Open Banking. Although initially the Australian regulators have chosen not to include payment initiation as part of its Open Banking scope (instead choosing to focus on the data-sharing aspect), there is wide speculation that payments will be introduced later on.

Hong Kong is also among the emerging adopters of Open Banking in the Asia Pacific region. The Hong Kong Money Authority launched the Open API Framework in January 2019, choosing to take a phased approach to Open Banking, starting with ‘read-only’ access to account information, followed by financial product application processing, before they develop into more detailed account information and payments. 

Africa

Africa is one of the last regions to start developing Open Banking initiatives, but the intent is certainly there already in a handful of African countries. Like APAC, financial exclusion is an enormous problem in Africa and Open Banking may offer the opportunity to improve the lives and financial well being of many who currently struggle to access traditional means of transacting.

Nigeria has recently developed a roadmap for implementing Open Banking and is actively advocating Open APIs as it follows examples from around the world. The local entity, Open Banking Nigeria, believes that “the need for Open Banking in Nigeria is even more critical than just convenience; it is the only hope for millions of Nigerians who are financially excluded but who can be included within the formal financial ecosystem by services that are developed by fintechs and powered by Open Banking.” 

Nigeria currently suffers from a USD 30 billion credit gap, because so many consumers and small businesses are unable to access the traditional financial services, (such as loans and credit cards) that they need. For this reason, one of the main aspirations for the country is to use Open Banking to extend the reach of loan and other credit providers. Undoubtedly, if the country is successful in its implementation, other African markets are likely to follow, since many face similar issues with the financial inclusion of poor and rural communities.

Open Banking is here to stay

Open Banking has the potential to provide innovative services to consumers and support a simplified, more positive payments experience - from e-commerce purchases to subscription payments to loans and far more.

Open Banking also offers merchants and financial services providers the chance to lower their payments costs, improve their cash flows and reduce fraud – all extremely valuable opportunities. 

More broadly, as we can see from the country-specific examples above, there are also broader challenges around financial inclusion and digitalisation that Open Banking can help to address. 

Interestingly, a new study from Juniper Research has found that the coronavirus pandemic is also accelerating the drive towards Open Banking as consumers look to take more control over their financial health and financial services providers explore how they can better support small- to medium-sized business customers and ease their own compliance burdens.

Looking at these drivers in combination, it is easy to see why Open Banking is on a strong upwards curve – and this global momentum is unlikely to slow.

Sources;
[i] www.openbanking.org.uk/about-us/latest-news/open-banking-march-highlights-2020/ 
[ii] Open Banking Report 2019, LearnBonds
[iii] Open Banking Report 2019, LearnBonds
[iv] Seizing the Open Banking Opportunity, Juniper Research, May 2020
[v] Seizing the Open Banking Opportunity, Juniper Research, May 2020
[vi] Opening up Commercial Banking, Accenture, 2018
[vii] www.pymnts.com/news/regulation/2020/asia-pacific-gear-up-open-banking-covid-19-hurdles/
[viii] The Paypers, Open Banking Report 2019

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