Barclays begins preparations for Open Banking

With just a month to go until the arrival of Open Banking in the UK, Barclays has moved to take advantage with the publication of a primer for consumers on what the new rules mean.

With multiple consumer surveys indicating that Brits have limited awareness of the new data sharing regime, Barclays is among the first of the UK’s big banks seeking to publicly educate its customers on the issue.

The one-page document posted on the Barclays’ Website complements the posting of a refreshed set of T&C’s advising customers of the changes, which have been mandated by the Competition and Markets Authority in a bid to boost innovation and competition in the retail banking market.

States the bank: “Barclays will launch its Open Banking solution in 2018, allowing you to not only share data with other providers but importantly, to view your accounts from other providers conveniently and securely through your Barclays Mobile Banking app.”

Reminding customers that they are not obliged to share their data, the bank warns against the use of screen-scraping tools which require customer IDs and log-ins and instead points to its own APIs as a safer means of engagement.

Barclays online API catalogue currently offers basic data services for branch and ATM location and product information, but the bank has tipped its hat with a “Coming Soon, Open Banking APIs” pledge and instructions for registration and authorisation of Account Information Service Providers and Payment Initiation Service Providers.

While Barclays remains tight-lipped about its plans, fellow high street giant HSBC has been more vocal, roping in 10,000 customers to test an Open Banking platform for aggregating account data from other banks and partnering with Bud to introduce money management tools to take advantage of the free-flow of data between accounts.

The Open Banking Implementation Entity charged with overseeing the roll out yesterday confirmed that the first current accounts to open up under the scheme will begin on 13 January with all providers onboard by March 2018.

For the first six weeks, the institutions offering Open Banking services will be asked to limit the number of instructions processed and only make it available to a small group of selected customers.

This enables authorised third parties to be sure that their products and services are working as intended and for banks and building societies to be certain that they can manage volumes appropriately, says Ian Major, operations director at Runpath and third party representative at the OBIE.

“Members welcome the ‘managed start’ approach and will concentrate in the formative weeks on supporting the phased and controlled release of the various banks’ APIs,” he says. “Adopting this method will ensure that the UK establishes a robust system for the rest of the world to learn from.”

Barclays is one a five banks listed by the CMA as lagging behind the stipulated 13 January deadline. It has notified the watchdog of an amended launch date for February 2018. Other banks behind the curve include HSBC, Bank of Ireland, RBS and Santander.

While the initial launch of Open Banking in the UK covers personal and small business accounts – as mandated by the competition wathdog in 2016 – the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s November Budget announced that the CMA9 banks behind the roll out have committed to extending the standards to cover all products with payments capability such as credit cards and e-wallets throughout the course of 2018 and 2019, in alignment with Europe’s adoption of PSD2.