Energy sector asks not to be forgotten in changes to Aussie data-sharing rules

AGL and Energy Council ask the committee to be careful in recommending changes to the Consumer Data Right without being mindful of the impact to other industries, such as energy.

The Australian Energy Council and energy provider AGL have asked the Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology to be cognisant the energy sector is different to the finance sector in discussing the Consumer Data Right (CDR) as part of its inquiry into the opportunities fintech and regtech present in Australia.

"While the issues paper is focused on opportunities and barriers for fintech and regtech generally, we would caution the committee against any changes to the CDR for this purpose without proper evaluation on how it will impact the operation of the CDR from a consumer perspective," the energy provider wrote in its submission [PDF] to the committee.

"This will allow decision-makers to identify any unintended consequences that may impact or inhibit consumer engagement and trust in the framework."

AGL asked the committee to remember the "customer centric purpose" of the CDR in considering fintech and regtech-favouring changes to the legislation.

"As the CDR rolls out into other sectors of the economy, accredited data recipients, including fintechs, will be able to harness the benefits of economies of scale through diverse data access," it continued.

Similarly, the Energy Council in its submission [PDF] said it supports introducing the CDR into the energy sector and wider economy, noting it has the potential to enhance competition in the retail market and "empower customers to make more informed choices".

"For the fintech industry, the CDR provides an immense opportunity to provide more innovative products and services that improve the customer experience. Improving the customer experience is a principal objective of the CDR and this should be reflected in any recommendation the Select Committee publishes," it wrote.

The now-delayed CDR, through the Treasury Laws Amendment (Consumer Data Right) Bill, allows individuals to "own" their data by granting them open access to their banking, energy, phone, and internet transactions, in addition to gaining the right to control who can have it and who can use it.

The first sector that will have the CDR applied is banking, with telecommunications and energy soon to follow.

"The ACCC is now in the process of developing the rules that will govern the application of the CDR in energy. These rules will regulate areas of importance to the fintech industry, such as the customer authentication framework and obligations on data holders and accredited parties," the council continued.

"We urge the Select Committee to be mindful of these rules when making any recommendations about the CDR and fintech industry, to the extent that they might impact on the energy industry."

On expanding the CDR to cover other areas of finance not mandated in the first instance, the Energy Council emphasised its view that any expansion of the CDR to other related financial sectors, such as superannuation, should be gradual to "avoid rushing the phased implementation of CDR into energy and telecommunications".

"This phased approach is in place to provide regulators and industry with certainty going forward and to allocate resources accordingly," it said. "A rushed process will only lead to sub-optimal results for customers."

Previously, the Communications Alliance shared concerns that the CDR legislation wasn't going to be overly applicable to industries other than banking, and that the rushed through process will result in a disjointed framework that is not well thought out.

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