ANZ rejects claims the big four sabotaged open banking

The blue bank's chief data officer has said no one has deliberately stalled the delayed Consumer Data Right.

The Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology is currently looking into opportunities that the two sectors -- fintech and regtech -- present to Australia, with the country's new Consumer Data Right (CDR) being constantly raised throughout its probe as a means to guarantee competition in the local financial services sector.

With concerns that the delays in implementing the CDR, specifically the open banking-type first tranche of the scheme, have come from attempts by the incumbent banks to stall or even sabotage the mandate, the committee asked Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ) Bank chief data officer Emma Gray if she perceived that as being the case.

Gray said "no".

See also: Big four banks passing the buck on open data regulation

"We have spent a significant amount of time and effort on the CDR, and that's along with everything else that's going on in banking and the reason we've done that is because we do believe it to be a safer way for consumers to share information," she said.

On anti-competitive behaviour more broadly, and the blocking of techniques such as screen-scraping by one of ANZ's competitors, Gray said the CDR is a "really important reform".

"To the point of, 'is that happening soon enough?', we're very conscious of arguments around convenience and that's definitely worth reflecting on from a fintech perspective, but the UK example suggests that from an API call perspective, once the CDR or equivalent comes online, the perceived need for [screen-scraping] does decrease significantly," Gray added.

According to Gray, the banking sector -- despite the big four holding 80% of the market share -- is competitive.

"We view it as competitive. And I think that's witnessed by customers refinancing loans every few years and that's certainly accelerated quite a lot over the last period of time," she said.

"We view open banking as a really important reform and we think we're going to have to compete hard, frankly."

Discussing the big four banks' delay in implementing PayID back in January last year, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said he was "disappointed" that the banks had not been sufficiently ready for the New Payments Platform (NPP) go-live.

This had cast doubt on their ability to be ready for open banking come the original 1 July 2019 go-live date.

The CDR, after delays, will officially be launched on 1 July 2020 and it will require ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac to share product reference data with accredited data recipients.

Consumer data relating to credit and debit cards, deposit accounts, and transaction accounts must be made available from the start of this coming financial year; while consumer data relating to mortgage and personal loan data must be able to be shared from November 1.

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