Consumers remain at the centre of the open data debate

Elizabeth Barry 21 February 2017

open data roundtable

Senior representatives from government and industry this week debated whether to leave consumers in control of their data.

This week the Victorian Government, in conjunction with Fintech Australia and Fintech Victoria, hosted an Open Data Roundtable to facilitate discussion between more than 30 key stakeholders regarding open data. The roundtable allowed senior representatives from government bodies and industry to discuss policy and operational issues relating to the current data sharing debate.

This week's roundtable discussion follows the recent release of two conflicting recommendations regarding open data.

The first, released by the House of Representatives Standing Economic Committee off the back of the parliamentary inquiry into banking, recommended that banks be forced to open consumer and small business data by July 2018.

The second was a report released by the Productivity Commission and recommended that consumers have more power over data relating to them held by the banks.

The outcome of the roundtable discussion appears to have leaned closer to the second recommendation, with attendees saying consumer choice and empowerment should be at the centre of the open data debate.

We find that customers want to control and better use their own data

Fintech Australia CEO Danielle Szetho said empowering consumers will ultimately help the fintech industry be more competitive.

“Consumers, including businesses, should have the right to direct institutions to share their information with third parties. This will help consumers to better understand their financial position, compare different products and access deals better tailored to their needs.”

The practicality of empowering consumers was also discussed, with Luke Howes, CEO of fintech company Proviso saying the process should be simple for consumers.

"Consumers want their financial services data experience to be effortless. It also needs to be information-rich to provide real solutions and make dealing with finance easier. Overall, we find that customers want to control and better use their own data.”

The data sharing debate has been going on for some time in Australia, with fintech companies encountering numerous difficulties due to larger banks not sharing their data. One example of this is micro-investments company Acorns, that said its customers had been advised by some of their banks not to hand over their Internet banking logins to allow automatic payments.

However, the big banks have been making moves towards open data despite no official position or policy being adopted by the government. NAB provided open access to some of its data to select third-parties for a two-week period and ANZ has been developing new systems that will allow for external data sharing.

The Productivity Commission has been holding a public inquiry into data sharing, with a final report expected in March.

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