OBIE UK’s open banking body launches app store

via FinTech Futures

The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) has launched the ‘Open Banking App Store’.

The UK’s open banking body wants to assist consumers and businesses access suitable financial products “that will help them weather the COVID-19 crisis”.

According to the Global Government Forum, the launch date has been brought forward. It notes that this is “because open banking can make life easier in lockdown – automating some transactions, for example, and thus cutting the daily queues outside high street banks”.

Open banking technologies allow consumers and small businesses to connect bank accounts with authorised third parties. This can “help them better manage their finances”, says the OBIE.

The app store currently has 68 apps listed, divided into consumer, business and technical services apps. Categories beneath these three main tabs include financial safeguarding, personal finance tools, mortgages, accountancy and tax, e-commerce payments and identity verification. OBIE aims to add further products weekly.

“Better knowledge and greater awareness”

Announcing the Open Banking App Store, OBIE’s ecosystem development director, David Beardmore says: “consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need more clarity than ever on how to manage their finances through this difficult time”.

“With the number of banks and fintechs offering open banking-enabled products growing so rapidly, deciphering the advantages of each product can seem daunting. With the launch of the Open Banking App Store, we are enabling individuals and businesses to find the financial products that are best suited to their situation by helping them narrow down their options and see what’s out there.”

“Better knowledge and greater awareness equate to more power in the hands of customers.”

OBIE says that it has begun to see user-search behaviour “maturing” in recent months, with terms such as “best open banking apps” growing in popularity. This, it says, suggests that there will be demand for a tool that allows people and businesses to compare offerings.

“We are still in the very, very early stages of open banking,” says OBIE’s trustee, Imran Gulamhuseinwala.

He notes that there are three pillars to the open banking stages: implementation, an ecosystem of authorised third-parties and customer adoption.

Gulamhuseinwala, speaking less than a week after the publication of an ‘approved roadmap’ for the final stages of open banking implementation, says: “In terms of implementation, I’d say that we’re 90% through.”

According to the OBIE, over one million people are using open banking technology in the UK, with Gulamhuseinwala saying: “2020 will be the year when adoption of open banking financial services really takes off”.

OBIE receives funding from the UK’s nine largest banks and building societies. This includes: Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Danske, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, RBS Group and Santander.

Its role includes designing the specifications for the application programme interfaces (APIs) used to provide open banking.