Open Banking Expo 2021 – the journey from launch to lift-off

It was wonderful to see so many members of the open banking community at the recent Open Banking Expo and at our own ecosystem events. It reinforced how much we have all missed meeting in person and, even in the two short years since the pandemic, how much progress open banking products and services have made.  

We look forward to continuing this collaborative journey to help open banking reach its true potential.

From our own point of view at the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), we are pleased to say that in those past two years, we have: 

  • delivered most of the agreed revised roadmap 
  • seen the launch of successful account-to-account (A2A) payments 
  • witnessed the rise of the QR code, particularly for charity payments, including the legendary Captain Tom campaign 
  • delivered the standards for Variable Recurring Payments (VRPs) for sweeping  
  • and seen HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) take £1.5bn in tax payments via open banking. 

And some of these milestones turned out to be hot topics for discussions at Expo. 

David Beardmore Ecosystem Development Director, OBIE

Unleashing the potential of VRPs  

On the main stage, my colleague Alan Ainsworth, Head of Policy at the OBIE, chaired a session on VRPs.  

Niamh Greally, VP Product at Chip, explained how the savings app helped users save more easily, cut the cost of debt, and make money work harder, and that VRPs would make it easier to sweep spare money into interest-earning accounts.  

Fliss Berridge, Director and Co-Founder at payments platform Ordo, highlighted further opportunities for VRPs to play a part in smooth point-of-sale payments and invoicing, as well as the potential for managing irregular – as well as – repeated payments. 

Matt Parish, Product Lead, VRP, at API developer TrueLayer, which provides the platform for Chip, spoke about how 2022 will be the year of VRPs and that he hoped to see some APIs go live in January. 

The panel agreed that there were opportunities to challenge Apple Pay and Google Pay and that VRPs will be a game-changer for consumers and SMEs alike. 

Consumer attitudes to apps 

The OBIE launched its second Open Banking Impact Report which assesses the adoption of open banking services in the UK. It paints a positive picture, showing that customers who are using open banking-powered apps want to continue using them – particularly apps that help tackle financial challenges such as sticking to budgets, reducing unnecessary expenditure, shopping around for deals, and minimising bank fees and charges. 

The challenge, as always, is to build sufficiently compelling propositions to persuade both consumers and businesses to feel confident in sharing their data.  

HMRC – the ultimate use case 

At my own session, a fireside chat with James Hickman, Chief Commercial Officer of Ecospend, we discussed how the UK government became a global leader in open banking by using the technology to collect nine different kinds of tax, ranging from corporation tax to PAYE to VAT. Kevin Guest and Kseniya Shuturminska from HMRC were on hand to share that there are plans to extend that to a total of 30 different products next year.  

The HMRC team also revealed that it is helping other government agencies explore how they can use open banking to collect payments. And just in case you thought it was all about taking money from citizens, the team is also looking at delivering outbound payments to support vulnerable customers.  

Finishing up, our new Chair and Trustee, Charlotte Crosswell, delivered the closing keynote, sounding another note of optimism, in particular about payments.  

She said: “HMT and the Payments Systems Regulator have also indicated their support for the development of open banking payments.  How can we unleash the potential for customers and businesses to pay and get paid by open banking payments? There are a lot of unknowns, but I do know that we as an industry can solve this.” 

Our thanks go to Adam Cox and his team at Open Banking Expo for getting us all together in an engaging, safe and enjoyable way.  

What is clear to me, is that two years without meeting is too long. We look forward to getting together soon to continue this collaborative journey to help open banking reach its true potential. We will be hosting more in-person events in the coming months to facilitate knowledge-sharing, networking and the continued growth of this exciting ecosystem we are privileged to lead.  

Watch this space for details of upcoming events!