OBL at the Conservative Party Conference – round-up

06 October 2023

This year’s Conservative Party Conference offered a focused snapshot of the prevailing trends and challenges in the UK’s financial services sector. Several overarching themes emerged, highlighting the sector’s complex landscape and future opportunities. Topics such as innovation, regulation, and risk management were central to the discourse, suggesting a collaborative approach between government, industry, and regulators to cement the UK’s role as a global leader in financial services. 

We were on the ground in Manchester, holding one-to-one meetings with Chris Hayward, Policy Chair of the City of London Corporation, and John Penrose MP. We also attended the launch of the Payments Association’s manifesto with Sir Graham Brady, and hosted our own panel event and private lunch.  

Our panel event aimed to highlight the growth of open banking and demonstrate the benefits it can bring to both consumers and businesses. Chair and Trustee Marion King started her remarks by revealing impressive statistics, including the 12 million monthly transactions facilitated by open banking. She also commented on the challenges of sustaining open banking and that there must be a viable funding model to support its growth. She also discussed the importance of a financial structure that benefits all players involved, from fintech start-ups to established financial institutions, and suggested that such a balanced approach is essential for the continued success and scaling of open banking. 

Other panellists included Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Paul Scully MP, Head of Regulation and Standards at NatWest Group, Stephen Wright, and CEO and Co-Founder of TrueLayer, Francesco Simoneschi, who all discussed the many benefits of open banking including simplifying financial experiences and assisting small businesses with cash flow management.

Minister Scully noted the transformative potential of open banking, with 7.75 million users already benefiting in the UK. He also made it clear that while the UK is a leader in this space, complacency could be detrimental.  

Similar themes were discussed during the private lunch OBL hosted during the conference. The lunch event provided the opportunity for experts and supporters of open banking opportunities to discuss how the UK can be positioned as world leading when it comes to not only open banking, but also open data. Paul Scully MP, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Energy and Net Zero, Andrew Bowie MP, were both in attendance and were effusive about how the sector can ensure that consumers are put first and the steps to take to ensure that this is the case. There was also concern voiced around how the UK can make sure that, despite global commercial business flows, a UK leading standard is adopted.  

Overall, the Conservative Party Conference showcased a collaborative ethos among stakeholders, government, private sector, and regulators, all working towards a cohesive vision.

The panels and discussions pointed to a collective ambition: cementing the UK’s role as a global leader in financial services and related technologies.

The OBL team will be attending the upcoming Labour Party Conference in Liverpool this weekend and hope to have similar conversations with experts and politicians alike.  

Notes from panel event: Open banking: the catalyst for a UK digital economy