​NAB keeps its cool over Open Banking implementation

Whereas competitor Westpac has predicted a damage bill of around AU$200 million, the National Australia Bank believes its internal transformation will allow it to comply without impacting its pocket all that much.

Australia's major banks will be forced to make banking data available from the start of the 2020 financial year.

The mandate comes by way of a new open banking regime that forms the first phase of a new Consumer Data Right (CDR) which will allow individuals to "own" their data by granting them open access to their banking, energy, phone, and internet transactions, as well as the right to control who can have it and who can use it.

Banking is the first cab off the rank, and recently, Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer predicted the initial financial damage due to Open Banking to be around AU$200 million to his organisation.

"For technology projects, the investment required in these things are enormous. Open Banking in the first instance is probably going to cost us somewhere in the AU$150 to AU$200 million to implement because of the complexity of our systems environment," he told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics last month.

"There's only so much investment and so many technologists who can work on all these things at once."

However, the National Australia Bank (NAB) does not estimate their own damage bill to be that high, telling ZDNet it is pretty well-placed to handle Open Banking with the internal data strategy and cloud-first strategy it is already implementing.

"Effectively our data strategy, which includes streams of data and taking it off the core systems and into AWS and allowing us to expose and consume it from AWS and building operational stores there, [has provided] quite a robust security framework which we've been using across channels," executive general manager, CIO at NAB Yuri Misnik told ZDNet.

"While it needs to be modified, because you start thinking about consent, consent management, and all the complex scenarios around that, we definitely think that our cloud-first, cloud-native strategy here would allow us to move much faster and much, much cheaper."

"We're not planning to over achieve here and do more than Westpac, we actually think we're more lean and much more efficient."

According to Misnik, the biggest challenge for NAB is not the technology in fulfilling its obligations under the CDR; rather it's getting the government, legislators, and regulators to detail exactly what is expected of them.

"All our feedback is about the safety and security of customer privacy -- [that] is key for us," he said, echoing remarks made previously by NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn.

"For example, the person who runs this service just recently moved from the UK. He was owning a big chunk of the open banking implementation in the UK for one of the global banks there and so we're using this experience in people who have actually done it before."

"We believe we're probably in a better position as long as the regulators and legislators will agree on a consistent and meaningful framework."

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will be shaping its legislation around what is immediately required from financial services providers, but telcos and energy providers will soon be forced to abide by the same directive as the banks.

Speaking on a roundtable with Misnik at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the head of IT and operations at Amaysim Peter James likened the mandate of opening up data to porting a mobile number.

"If you look at what telcos [were] like and how difficult it was to port a number in the 90s to 00s, whereas now it's relatively pain-free, most of the time, and it is relatively well regulated," he told ZDNet.

"There is an industry body there that helps enforce the way carriers have to give up numbers and return numbers as well, it's not perfect, but it's far better than it was."

As both a telco and an energy provider, Amaysim will need to have all of its data ducks in line when the CDR reaches those sectors.

"From a mobile side we're pretty good in that regard, but there's a lot of complexities in the energy industry to make it more transparent and a more customer friendlier industry, that we're hoping to be a big part of shaping in 2019," he continued.

"From a technology point of view, where we are now, we don't see a huge challenge. Working with the regulators and working with different ombudsman organisations to work out how it sits to make it more customer-centric is really key for us and our customers as well."

"We actually like open banking -- we think it's the right thing to do. It actually helps us and we want to be a consumer of this service as well. We want to take insights off this data and monetise it and do interesting things with it," Minisk concluded.

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of AWS

RELATED COVERAGE