Time to look beyond the transition – for Brexit and open banking

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Most of the conversations we’ve heard at recent fintech and retail banking conferences in London have touched on open banking, Brexit – or both. While many are clearly working to navigate one or the other, we’ve noticed a stark parallel between the two – that the focus on the process has almost entirely eclipsed the intended result and what comes next.

The problem with goal lines

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, reminded the audience this year at the Lendit fintech conference that this Brexit transition period was designed to reach an agreement on the best possible outcome for the future of Britain.

It was supposed to secure trade agreements, release money tied up in the EU for the national health service, and create frictionless customs borders. It was supposed to fulfil the electorate’s wishes for a more independent Britain.

Instead, Osborne says, that opportunity has been lost. The current draft Brexit agreement is now simply limited to the ‘divorce’ process – the literal act of leaving rather than what comes next. The future relationship between the United Kingdom and its near neighbours has been forgotten in the chaos of organising the departure – and a kind of goal-line fatigue has set in.

PSD2 implementation is just the start

A similar argument can be made for open banking. We’re roughly halfway through the PSD2 implementation period and perhaps – much like the Brexit transition period – the focus has too often been on simply getting to the deadline in a manner that meets the minimum level of compliance, with minimal disruption to established business models.

Many players have stood on conference stages and paid lip service to what comes next – saying that Open Banking and PSD2 are essential when it comes to delivering the customer experience and value of the future. But very few have expanded upon what that might actually be – or how they plan to adapt and evolve their business models and brand strategy to compete.

So in this race to implement PSD2, let’s not forget that the ultimate goal line isn’t September 2019 – it’s what comes after. Because whether or not you are in favour of open banking or Brexit, they will both be a reality. The big, important question – beyond what the process looks like – is what will come next? And that is a question we need to be asking now.

Isabelle Österlund