Will value be the key to unlocking consumer trust?

By

Hamish Thomas

EY EMEIA Payments Leader and UK Advisory Banking Technology Leader

Transformation leader in payments and open banking. Passionate about technology’s potential to create opportunity and manage risk. Optimistic runner. Film enthusiast.

Contributors
8 minute read 28 Mar 2019

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Building consumer trust is crucial to success for banks. The most important decision for consumers is likely who to trust with their money. 

This article is part of our Open Banking Opportunity Index.

Open banking is gaining momentum globally – fueled by a regulatory impetus in many markets – it is creating opportunities to develop new services that can enhance consumers’ lives and drive loyalty. To fulfil this potential, banks must ask their customers to put faith in a new delivery model, one that opens their financial data to an ecosystem of partners in return for a better experience.

EY’s Open Banking Opportunity Index, which measures the potential for open banking to succeed across 10 different markets, finds that consumer sentiment toward open banking could be a major factor affecting its progress — even in those markets that have established a strong regulatory and innovation environment.

The UK, for example, sets the global benchmark with its regulatory framework for open banking but does not rank as highly when it comes to consumer sentiment.

The UK ranks seventh out of 10 markets for consumer support of open banking and sharing of financial data.
EY Open Banking Opportunity Index

For open banking adoption to take off globally, it is paramount that banks overcome the trust hurdle, so consumers feel confident that sufficient data protection and security is in place to embrace this new trend.

A major indicator that the industry is succeeding will be when customers no longer perceive open banking as out of the ordinary. As open banking becomes intrinsic to how better, customer-centric financial services are delivered, consumers will expect this elevated service offering as a standard from their providers — with the same guarantees of quality and protection that apply to every other service.

To get there, all of the stakeholders in the open banking ecosystem – including banks, FinTechs, regulators and others – will need to play their part.

The sentiment landscape

As part of our index, we analyzed social media and online discussion to gauge consumer sentiment. This social listening exercise covered three main areas:

  • Open banking: Consumer discussions talking explicitly about the trend
  • Sharing financial data: Conversations related to the sharing of financial and bank data with third parties
  • Services: Posts discussing apps, tools or services of the type enabled by open banking

On balance, we found that positive sentiment outweighed negative sentiment across all of the markets we assessed, though there were substantial differences between them. European markets – particularly Germany, the UK and Spain – tended to have lower net sentiment scores while consumers in Asia-Pacific markets were more positive.

Consumer sentiment insights country comparison

Consumer sentiment insights country comparison

What’s driving sentiment?

Our analysis also identified a series of discussion themes among the consumer content that we harvested. These themes indicate the issues driving positive and negative sentiment toward open banking.

Of the posts expressing positive sentiment around open banking, the most common discussion themes were ‘control’ (consumers taking charge of their banking data and services) and ‘innovation’ (the potential for new types of banking services to emerge).

Global open banking sentiment

40%

The proportion of positive social media posts relating to control and innovation in open banking.

But dampening sentiment were discussions on ‘data protection’ and ‘cybersecurity’ concerns, which accounted for 48% of all negative posts worldwide, as consumers worry about the potential for fraud and the misuse of their data by third parties.

One consumer noted that: “This new open banking scheme bothers me a little. The idea of allowing multiple businesses access to my details increases the chances of fraud.”

While another said, "This open banking idea is one of the most ill-thought out things I have ever heard. It will give third parties more access to your bank account and if things go wrong, you'll be liable. This serves banks, not customers.”

These comments highlight legitimate concerns, in that more firms handling customer data could increase their exposure to fraud if the ecosystem is not managed properly. But they also reflect misperceptions, in that most regulators do not intend that the liability for fraudulent or unauthorized transactions will be borne by customers and, rather than serving the industry, open banking is primarily about better serving the customer.

So, how do providers in the open banking ecosystem persuade consumers with neutral sentiment, as well as convincing those with negative sentiment, to get over the trust threshold to drive adoption?

Three ways to overcome the consumer trust threshold

To elevate consumer trust, banks, regulators, FinTechs and others will need to help ensure that progress is made in three key areas:

  1. Cyber protection: Using more sophisticated digital tools and techniques to keep consumers’ data safe.
  2. Regulatory protection: Embedding a framework with sufficient consumer safeguards, including rights to recourse and penalties for any providers that contribute to causing damage against consumers.
  3. Adding value: Providing open banking services that consumers feel support them in achieving their goals.

Cyber protection

Open banking models will distribute risks more broadly, but the technologies to strengthen cybersecurity are evolving all the time too. If banks and third-party providers (TPPs) can embrace new security solutions in the right way they can create a secure ecosystem.

For instance, advances in artificial intelligence are already enabling better identity validation and authentication in payments, and more effective monitoring of suspicious and fraudulent activity. These tools will help to secure the open banking ecosystem. Indeed, the UK’s Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) is assessing machine-based learning and behavioral analytics tools to help monitor fraud risk.

Shared intelligence will be important in fraud prevention too. If Account Servicing Payment Service Providers (ASPSPs) and TPPs can work together to share information on anomalies, fraud or data breaches in real-time, it will help to minimize the impact on the end customer and protect the integrity of the ecosystem.

Regulatory protection

Regulators globally have taken vastly different approaches on open banking policy and implementation to date — and many have work to do to put the necessary consumer safeguards in place.

In some markets, regulators are stipulating that firms must meet certain thresholds if they want to participate in some open banking activities. In the UK for example, businesses that provide payment initiation services must be authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority, maintain a minimum of €50,000 in initial capital (or higher if they provide certain other payment services) and must hold professional indemnity insurance. For account information service providers, there is an option to become registered, but presently, it is only voluntary.

While the UK is creating a customized, targeted approach to open banking, other markets are tackling related regulatory change in a different way. Singapore, for instance, is looking to consolidate existing legislation into a new combined regulatory framework. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has said that, “A more calibrated regulatory regime, applied on an activity basis to payment service providers, rather than specific payment systems, would allow the MAS to better address specific issues, such as consumer protection, access and corporate governance.”

Whichever approach is taken, the knowledge that participants in open banking ecosystems are being effectively vetted and monitored will be important in providing consumers with peace of mind.

Implementing the right protective mechanisms for consumers that suffer losses is critical too. The payment initiation access granted to TPPs may complicate the issue of liability between banks and TPPs where an unauthorised transaction occurs, but this cannot be allowed to affect the customer. From the customers’ perspective, the status quo should be preserved in providing access to an immediate refund from their bank in such cases.

When it comes to TPPs accessing consumers’ bank account information, consumers are better protected in markets where there is a regulatory framework in place to ensure providers use an open application programming interface (API) mechanism. In markets where such frameworks do not yet exist, for example, the US, there is still some reliance on “screen-scraping” practices, whereby consumers are required to share their account login details with third parties. In such cases, banks may claim consumers have breached their online banking contracts and so disavow any liability on their part if customers become fraud victims as a result of sharing their login credentials.

Adding value

Regulatory and cyber protections are crucial enablers of trust, but ultimately helping consumers understand how open banking services can support them in achieving better financial outcomes, more easily, could prove the most influential factor.

Open banking allows consumers to get more from their financial services providers as their own data powers better services. Already, open-banking-enabled apps offer consumers the ability to better monitor their spending, to get a holistic view of their personal finances or to find more suitable and cheaper financing options. These services are becoming more mainstream globally.

Looking ahead, there are potential services that go much further in supporting consumers. In Australia, for example, there are plans to expand the open banking ecosystem to include energy, telecommunications and eventually other industries such as health and retail. This opens the door to services that help consumers manage other aspects of their lives; financial services providers could play a role in finding the best deals for customers in these sectors or helping them to switch providers.

In China, where the financial services industry has been quick to embrace open banking, banks have leveraged APIs to expand their customer service coverage, offering financial services across other lifestyle services such as e-commerce and creating a vast ecosystem of products across sectors. Some are now seeking to position themselves as lifestyle partners for their customers.

These developments clearly show that financial services providers globally will need to start using open banking to add more value for their customers — if they want to remain competitive. Over time, these services, which can help individuals to achieve both financial and non-financial goals, will simply become part of the fabric of consumers’ daily lives. And as this unfolds, it is up to the industry and regulators to ensure that they maintain the highest standards of quality and protection for consumers.

Author contribution by Wayne Brown, Associate Partner, Financial Services, EY. 
Author contribution by Anita Kimber, Ernst & Young – United Kingdom Digital and Innovation Partner. 

Summary

Leading banks are racing to adopt new models based upon the open exchange of data. But online sentiment analysis reveals consumer trust is lacking and, without this, open banking will struggle to get off the starting line. 

About this article

By

Hamish Thomas

EY EMEIA Payments Leader and UK Advisory Banking Technology Leader

Transformation leader in payments and open banking. Passionate about technology’s potential to create opportunity and manage risk. Optimistic runner. Film enthusiast.

Contributors