Open Banking, an organization set up by the UK Government’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to enable customers to control and share their financial data, has launched two API specifications; Accounts and Transaction Information and Payments Initiation. These API specifications can be used by banks and authorized third-party applications to develop innovative applications and highly personalized products using consumer financial data upon permission.
Last year, the CMA released the final report regarding its investigation of the retail banking market. The report states that "older and larger banks do not have to compete hard enough for customers’ business, and smaller and newer banks find it difficult to grow. This means that many people are paying more than they should and are not benefiting from new services." The CMA issued a number of reforms including a requirement for banks to implement Open Banking by early 2018.
The newly released Open Banking API specifications will allow banking customers and SMBs to share their financial data with third-party applications. The Account and Transaction Information API specification provides access to banking account information, balances, and transactional history. The Payments Initiation API specification initiates payments from personal banking accounts and business accounts.
Open Banking not only provides API specifications but also open data APIs (beta) that are available and ready to use by developers. At the time of this writing, the open data APIs return various banking information such as ATMs, Branches, and commercial credit cards. There are currently fourteen providers including Barclays Bank, First Trust Bank, and Royal Bank of Scotland.
"The specifications we are releasing today, which will be live from January next year, provide the platform for developers from banks, fintechs, and other organizations to build new web and mobile applications that will deliver a safer, more personalized and easier banking experience for consumers wishing to search, select and switch financial products in a secure environment," said Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Trustee of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, in a prepared statement.