The CMA maps out recommendations for regulatory oversight of Open Banking in the UK

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its recommendations for the future oversight and governance of Open Banking – underlining the importance of an effective regulatory oversight for the sector. 

The body also emphasised the need for a new Joint Regulatory Oversight Committee to agree and implement the next steps led jointly by the FCA and PSR.

It comes as the UK continues to be a global leader within open banking, with over 5 million users of services powered by Open Banking technology as of January 2022. 

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, commented: “Open Banking has been a major success in the UK, bringing innovative new services to retail banking and benefiting consumers, businesses and the UK economy.”

In 2017, Open Banking was launched in the UK as part of a package of remedies following the CMA’s market investigation into retail banking. The CMA ordered the 9 largest retail banks in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to pay for and set up an independent Open Banking Implementation Entity.

Following the suggestions, Nanna Saito Nielsen, VP of Banking Operations at GoCardless, commented: “We’re glad to see the CMA has published new guidance on the future of Open Banking. It’s not so much a resolution, however, as it is a signal that we’ve entered a critical phase of Open Banking development. We can’t afford to lose focus now.

“While it’s true that we’ve built the foundations of Open Banking, there are still fundamental issues which must be addressed to enable mass adoption, such as improving API uptime and creating a payer experience that is, at a minimum, good and consistent across banks. These details and how they are implemented are key. Inconsistent or generally non-conformant implementation will — even if just initially — disproportionately impact new or relatively young market entrants. The current proposition is fragile, and we need to finish the fundamentals. But the real prize is focusing on the future potential of open banking. 

“We applaud the CMA for heeding our recommendation to create an interim ‘bedding in’ period between winding down the OBIE and a ‘future state’. This will provide sufficient time to deliver the remaining Open Banking roadmap and provide the robustness needed to drive mass uptake. It will also allow industry players to design that future state when open banking becomes part of ‘business as usual’, and to create a stable foundation upon which other initiatives such as Open Finance can be built. 

“We are also pleased to see a commitment to going beyond the original CMA order, in particular unlocking the potential of Open Banking payments which we believe will be a viable alternative to cards.”

On the future steps for the regulatory framework of the tech, she underlined that there are two key areas that need to be addressed and refined in order to boost the continued success of open banking in the region. 

She added: “The first is the question of funding: while we are encouraged to see a broader funding model, we have yet to see the details. Second, the statement describes the future entity with independent and accountable leadership. We would support a process whereby the joint regulatory oversight committee plays a central role in the appointment of an initial independent chair. 

“We believe everyone in the ecosystem should actively shape the direction of these issues so that we create the basis for more distributed and equal decision-making powers, and avoid undue influence from any party.”