Open Banking: An Opportunity for Europe’s Banks

Despite growing acceptance of open banking among European financial executives, there are fears that its benefits are not yet widely understood. What can organisations do to ensure that their transition to open banking proceeds as smoothly as possible?

Jan van Vonno, Research Director at Tink, looks more deeply into the trends currently altering Europe’s financial sector.

Convenience and ease have become the new normal for consumers and the demand for better, more personalised digital experiences in the financial industry has skyrocketed. Thanks to PSD2 and the UK’s Retail Banking Market Investigation Order, Europe has been leading the way with its open banking initiatives — representing the beginning of a journey to democratise money management, empowering everyone to access the right products and services to meet their financial needs.

Over the last few months, Tink has been reporting on the attitudes and sentiment of Europe’s financial institutions towards open banking, with our research revealing that 61% of financial executives feel more positive towards open banking than last year.

This is extremely encouraging — particularly considering the current climate we find ourselves in. With COVID-19 accelerating the shift toward digital channels, we expect this positivity to continue to grow as more financial institutions concentrate on the digital transformation of products and services.

However, our research also revealed that 46% of financial executives aren’t confident that the benefits of open banking are widely understood within their organisations. So clearly the industry has more work to do. To reap the full rewards of open banking, it’s essential for financial institutions to remain nimble, open-minded and strategic in their approach. Here are three things they can focus on.

Thanks to PSD2 and the UK’s Retail Banking Market Investigation Order, Europe has been leading the way with its open banking initiatives.

Create a clear open banking strategy

Adoption of open banking starts with the belief that it will create value. Once financial institutions embrace this, the next step is to implement a clear and detailed open banking strategy which can be translated into concrete business objectives.

To do this, they need to embrace change — educating people at all levels of their organisation on the benefits of open banking and incorporating it into the product, service and technology roadmaps of their business. Thankfully, 59% of respondents indicate that they already have a clear strategy in place, while 58% view open banking as an opportunity.

It is important that financial institutions also look to embrace the role of a TPP — consuming APIs to enhance their current products and operations and leveraging the available data to improve customer acquisition, accelerate onboarding, increase conversion, lower risk, and improve customer satisfaction rates. A great example of a company that is doing just this, is Nordea — who are going beyond PSD2 and aggregating all their data (e.g. investment, savings etc). In addition to this, they have successfully created a business-to-developer (B2D) open banking strategy to produce APIs and create better solutions for their customers.

It’s important to note that while some financial institutions approach open banking as a long-term strategic play, there are also a growing number who see the opportunity for short-term, quick-win value creation. There is no right or wrong way to approach this as both offer their own rewards. Ultimately, the most likely scenario is that financial institutions’ open banking journeys will begin with more elementary open banking use cases, eventually evolving into more sophisticated use cases over time.

Allocate budget (no matter how large) wisely

While the positive shift in attitudes is a solid indication of the importance of open banking, it doesn’t fully reflect the significance of the movement. The real proof is in increasing budgets that are being invested in open banking initiatives across Europe as the industry mindset moves from compliance to value creation. According to our data, open banking investment budgets for European financial institutions are typically between €50-€100 million, with 63% saying open banking budgets have grown since last year, with annual spending rising by between 20%-29%.

Of course, not all financial institution decision-makers have access to this level of budget. The key here is to focus on the low-hanging fruit and taking advantage of open banking by operating as a TPP. In doing so, executives can experiment with elementary use cases with clear outcomes before proceeding on to more advanced and exploratory use cases. In addition to this, creating an open banking scorecard can help measure the impact of investments and set clear parameters that help to navigate the open banking journey.

While the positive shift in attitudes is a solid indication of the importance of open banking, it doesn’t fully reflect the significance of the movement.

Forge fintech partnerships

What became clear through our research is that the general confidence in open banking isn’t purely reflected by the understanding of the opportunity it offers, the strategy, or the sum of investments. It’s also indicated by the number of partnerships that financial institutions have formed with fintechs to help accelerate innovation and realise their objectives. 69% have increased their number of fintech partnerships in 2019, while the majority of executives are also working with more than one partner.

Such partnerships are invaluable, as they can provide financial institutions with the technology, expertise and vision to drive open banking value creation — creating both short and long term value for financial institutions and, in turn, for their customers. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that in order for partnerships to truly work, fintechs must be able to navigate the complicated procurement process and onboarding requirements that many larger banks have in place.

What it boils down to, is this: 2020 will be the year of value creation as the industry starts accepting there is considerable money to be made in open banking. The winners will be the banks that place a relentless focus on building clear strategies, using existing budgets wisely and prioritising fintech partnerships. This, in turn, will lead to a host of new use cases springing up across the customer journey — with institutions leveraging open banking data to improve customer acquisition, accelerate onboarding, increase conversion, lower risk, and improve customer satisfaction rates.

A huge opportunity lies ahead; the benefits of open banking are now ripe for the picking.

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