February 9, 2016 / 12:06 AM / 3 years ago

UK plans new data rules to boost banking competition

LONDON (Reuters) - New data-sharing rules could be introduced in Britain from the end of this year to encourage innovation and competition in banking, an industry working group said on Tuesday.

Workers are seen walking during the lunch hour in the City of London, in Britain, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A common data-sharing standard would make it easier for customers to find the right financial products and for companies to share information electronically with their accountants, the Open Banking Working Group’s report said.

Banking data - dealing with matters as varied as account transactions, mortgage payments and fitness club subscriptions - is currently not easy to share with a third party in a format that computers can read for feeding into apps or for use by new banks getting off the ground.

The group was set up last year at the request of Britain’s finance ministry to explore how data on accounts transactions can be safely shared across the sector.

The government wants to increase competition on the high street in a sector dominated by just five banks - HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and Santander UK.

Britain wants the so-called Fin-Tech sector to flourish by creating new types of apps and services in banking.

A man walks past the bank of England in London, Britain September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The group said a new entity would plan, design and roll out the new standard, though it is unclear how it would be funded.

An initial, basic standard would be launched towards the end of this year, with personal customer transaction data included on a read-only basis at the start of 2018, the group said in a statement. Full customer, business and transactional data would be included by 2019.

Harriett Baldwin, a junior finance minister, said the new standard would “provide Fin Techs with a globally unrivalled opportunity for innovation in the UK.

“We look forward to continuing to work with industry over the coming weeks to establish how these recommendations will be taken forward,” Baldwin added.

The British Bankers’ Association, a trade body, said making more bank data openly available would make it easier for customers to get the best deals,” said Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association.

“But crucially, no data would be shared without the explicit consent of the customer and that data will be protected with robust security checks,” Browne said.

The group’s work pre-empts changes in European Union law that will require banks to allow their customers to receive their data over the Internet and share it with third parties.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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