Thought Leadership

Highlights from Open Banking Expo London

26 October 2022
Open Banking Expo

If it’s autumn, it must be Open Banking Expo in London. Last week saw a vibrant international crowd of fintech firms, banks, service providers, policy specialists and more descend on the Business Design Centre in Islington to talk all things open banking.

Like last year’s event, the mood was optimistic, as the ecosystem and industry acknowledged the considerable progress made, and demonstrated the appetite to capitalise on the momentum to push open banking further into the mainstream.

In his opening remarks, OB Connect’s Chief Strategy Officer Simon Lyons pointed out that use cases will drive adoption, and highlighted some of the technology’s successes so far:

  • at least one mortgage broker secures 100% of deals in this way,
  • certain lenders are converting around 25% of additional loans using open banking,
  • and HMRC has now collected more than £8 billion in tax payments via open banking, across 31 different tax types. Every payment has been perfectly reconciled.

When the Crown Commercial Team integrates open banking as a way to service multiple use cases encompassing AISPs/PISPs in its Dynamic Purchasing System next year Lyons predicts open banking will play an even greater role in government finance.

Business finance
SME finance was a hot topic at the event, and the OBIE’s Ecosystem Engagement Specialist, Connie Castro Feijoo, was part of a lively panel discussion exploring how open banking could better serve the UK’s small to medium-sized businesses.

Simon Cureton, CEO of Funding Options pointed out that businesses applying for credit through its lending platform could see an application for funds approved in 20 seconds, while in some instances it can take just 18 minutes from a business applying to seeing the physical funds in their bank account.

Michael Green, GM, Partnerships UK and EMEA, at accounting software provider Xero cited open banking as a “really important tool” that’s “saved hundreds of thousands of businesses a shedload of time” that would otherwise have been spent on administration.

He added that the real-time insights into cash flow and performance that open banking provides are invaluable when times are tough, as well as the ability to get paid on time. Xero offers a ‘Pay now’ button in its software, and he pointed out that businesses can get paid twice as fast by asking customers to pay this way. This was echoed by Tom Beckenham, founder and CEO of payments portal Comma.

The panel agreed that all these small incremental changes combined could make a big impact on perennial business problems, but that there are still challenges in educating businesses about open banking’s potential, and its ability to deliver improved productivity and financial resilience.

“While we know that 50 per cent of SMEs currently use open banking-enabled services, there’s a lot of work and education to do to get the additional 50 per cent using it as well”. Connie Castro Feijoo, OBIE Ecosystem Engagement Specialist OB Expo, London 2022

Castro Feijoo concluded that “while we know that 50 per cent of SMEs currently use open banking-enabled services, there’s a lot to do to get the additional 50 per cent in as well”.

Variable recurring payments (VRPs)

VRPs were also centre stage, as Tom Greenwood, CEO of Volt, declared that VRPs were sounding the “death knell of Direct Debit”. He said: “If financial institutions and fintechs work together, we have a tremendous opportunity to create a balanced, practical approach that will deliver on the promise for VRP to enhance consumers’ and businesses’ financial lives.”

Elsewhere, NatWest announced that it had partnered with Token to offer the UK’s first VRPs for non-sweeping use cases, and that these payments were made by NatWest customers to international food charity, Charity Right (implemented by GoCardless), and lettings management platform Pink Chilli (implemented by TrueLayer).

Token also confirmed its plans to make VRPs for non-sweeping services available through other UK banks.

Cost of living

On the Open Banking for Good Stage, the increased cost of living provided the backdrop to several debates.

First off was ‘Open Banking and the cost of living crisis. A force for good’, which highlighted some of the key challenges faced by financially vulnerable and excluded individuals.

James Pursail, CTO and co-founder of consumer lending platform Plend, highlighted that using open banking data for credit assessments opens up a line of affordable credit – “smarter, safer loans” – to people who might otherwise not meet the strict criteria required by other lenders, as well as the opportunity to consolidate debt.

David Fagleman, from the Finance Innovation Lab (FIL), pointed out that there is also a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for open banking to “help people get more out of the money that they do have”, including helping people to save (using the open banking tools that are out there), offering a financial guidance service, and offering support for informed pre-arrears on mortgage forbearance.

This echoed some of the sentiments conveyed in the ‘Beyond banking. The future is smart data’ panel. Moderator, Faith Reynolds from FIL, kicked off the session by commenting that while payments are usually the priority for open banking, data sharing is also hugely important for the industry.

Gavin Starks, Founder of Icebreaker One, said that the common standard in the open banking space should also be applied to the energy sector, and that this would greatly improve the affordability of citizens’ energy tariffs and help to reduce bills.

Charlotte Crosswell, OBIE Chair and Trustee, reiterated that open banking can help consumers build a better credit profile, pointing out that it is “expensive to be poor”, and that financial inclusion should be a key driver of the open banking industry. She added that elements of open banking, such as VRPs, can also be a way to address financial inclusion and the ‘poverty premium’.


There’s a strong sense from across the industry – and beyond – that open banking is at a tipping point, and that we need to continue to collaborate to ensure that momentum isn’t lost as open banking transitions to open finance.