Can the UK embrace Smart Data as the US plays catch up?

Ellie Duncan,
29 Feb 2024

MPs and representatives from across the Open Banking ecosystem have called for more urgency in the UK in the shift to a Smart Data economy, and warned that the US could yet overtake the UK.

The panel, which included Marion King, chair and trustee of Open Banking Limited, and Kevin Hollinrake MP, Minister for Enterprise, Markets and Small Business, was convened as part of Open Banking Limited’s parliamentary roadshow.

The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI) was on the agenda, given that it will expand Open Banking data to seven additional economic sectors, including energy, telecoms, home-buying and retail.

Panel chair, John Penrose, Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, said he had asked Minister Hollinrake for an “investable timetable” for the sectors that Smart Data will be rolled out to and for “clarity” on a central standards-setting body.

Penrose confirmed that when the Bill is given a date for the Committee stage in the House of Lords, it will pass with cross-party support.

Kevin Hollinrake MP

Speaking during the panel discussion on 21 February, Hollinrake said he was “very confident” that the government will progress the DPDI Bill and implement Smart Data schemes.

He added that there is a need to “make the whole system interoperable”.

King told attendees of the need for a new entity in the UK and said there needed to be more investment from “a broader spectrum of participants”, so that the Open Banking ecosystem can be “self-sustaining”.

Charlotte Crosswell, chair of the Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT), who also took part in the panel discussion, said the UK had been “looking too much at the step ahead of us, rather than where we’re going”.

“The UK still has a tremendous opportunity to lead some of this innovation and send the Open Banking providers here out into the world and take our scientists out into the world. But let’s get there quicker,” Crosswell added.

Country-specific competition

Penrose asked the panellists to name the country they are “most scared of and why”.

Marion King, chair and trustee of Open Banking Limited

Stephen Wright, head of regulation and standards, Bank of APIs at NatWest, identified the US which has an “uncanny ability to set world standards”, in part due to the “sheer size of the market”.

CFIT’s Crosswell agreed that the US has “a big enough market to be able to overtake us”.

She also pointed to emerging markets, given that they are “considering setting up interoperable standards”, which “will put friction in the system”.

King observed that India and Brazil have “moved quickly” in the P2P space, but questioned whether it matters if other countries set standards.

She also provided the latest adoption and payment statistics, announcing that there were nine million active users of Open Banking in January and 14.45 million Open Banking payments made in the month.