So-called Open Banking kicks off on Saturday in what amounts to a gigantic financial experiment in which Britain is leading the world. Under the scheme, 9 of the biggest lenders in the UK - Lloyds, RBS, Barclays, HSBC, Santander, Danske, Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland and Nationwide Building Society - must open the information they hold on the transactions history of their customer, should that customer give their permission.
The FCA, the UK's financial regulator, hopes Open Banking will drive competition, bring down costs and lead to innovation in banking services. It comes in alongside the Second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) from the European Commission, which rolls out the new data-sharing rules across the EU, although some countries, such as the Netherlands, have not yet made it law. So Britain is effectively acting as the pioneer and the thinking is that, as it is going first, Britain can set the standard elsewhere. Singapore, Japan and Australia, as well as the rest of the EU, are all in various stages of following Britain's lead, with Hong Kong also expected to follow.