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UK Government plots open banking expansion as part of smart data “big bang”

Big promises for a big bang, which could dramatically accelerate open finance

Jeremy Hunt Budget Day / The Treasury

Jeremy Hunt / The Treasury

The UK is planning a “smart data big bang” in order to give consumers more access to their data in seven core sectors, and take open banking beyond the CMA 9 for the first time.

While not mentioned in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s actual speech, the government’s published Autumn Statement report outlined that it would be “kickstarting a Smart Data Big Bang”.

The document explained this initiative would “explore [the] potential of utilising new powers in the Digital Protection and Digital Information Bill across 7 sectors: energy, banking, finance, retail, home-buying, transport and telecoms.”

This announcement indicates that the government is planning to harness the new legislation to mandate open finance, and that the open banking requirement could soon be expanded beyond the CMA9.

"It's about time we got on with Open Finance,” Charlie Mercer, deputy policy director of Startup Coalition told AltFi.

“We've spent the last few years having the same conversation over and over, but we now finally have Smart Data powers on the horizon.”

“It's fantastic that the Government has set out its ambition for a Smart Data big bang, and this must start with Open Finance."

While the UK published a two-year open banking roadmap at the start of 2023 which paved a path to open finance, we’re rapidly approaching the mid-point of that document and key decisions on the future of the initiative have yet to be resolved.

Crucially in Q4 2023, the roadmap said we’d get a decision on the ‘future entity’ which Open Banking Limited (formerly the Open Banking Implementation Entity or OBIE) is supposed to transform into in order to administer open banking going forward.

As we approach the end of November an announcement has yet to be made.

Alongside the Autumn Statement yesterday we also saw the publication of Joe Garner’s review into the future of payments, which set out an ambitious plan for open banking payments to one day rival the major card networks, while also urging the government to reach a “rapid conclusion” on the future of open banking.

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