Picture it: it’s a quiet afternoon in the office in late 2019 and you’re putting the finishing touches to yet another hilarious Facebook post – a video of your turtle, Leonardo, in a fedora, playing modern jazz on a tiny piano.
It’s going to get at least 12 likes, you tell yourself, leaning smugly back into your chair, when a notification suddenly pops up on your desktop computer and the colour drains urgently from your cheeks.
“NatWest Bank – monthly subscription – Fancy Fowl magazine – minus £6.50”
Panicking about the prospect of your colleagues discovering your secret ambition to be a poultry fancier, you tug every cable out the back of your machine and the screen goes blank.
Phew. Your obsession with Bearded Bantoms, waterfowl and turkeys will remain private. For now.
For me, this scenario – or something similar, anyhow – is quickly shapeshifting from a childish nightmare into a clear and present danger as we approach the implementation of the PDS2 and Open Banking requirements in the New Year.
"The major social networks might see this as a route into financial services"
These overlapping regulations – the former originates in the EU, while the latter is British – will force the banks to open up customer data to third parties in the form of secure APIs, creating more choice on where and how consumers manage their money.
It is surely not fantastical to suggest the major social networks might see this as a route into financial services, enabling people to manage their money at the same time as polluting the digital universe with jpegs of their children.
Perhaps this is a good thing? It certainly seems like a great step on the road to total customer convenience. But what about security? I’m forever leaving my Facebook page unattended and open at work. I often carelessly discard my phone as I make tea or coffee. I’ve been fraped more than once.
It was with these vexing questions bouncing chaotically around my tormented mind that I took my seat at the Kairos Society UK’s Christmas meet-up, entitled: “The Future of Fintech”.
“It goes against intuition – don’t give people access to your account”
Vedika gave as good a summary as I have heard of the likely results of the new regulations, describing an era of “the unbundling of bank services, with new firms doing only one thing but doing it really well”.
She described how personal “money control centres” are now possible. As are apps that notify you about switching and saving opportunities on regular payments (our client, Bean, does just this) and, of course, notifications about your bank account via Facebook.
“It goes against intuition – don’t give people access to your account,” Vedika acknowledged towards the end of her talk. But security is being taken seriously by this sector, for example with the deployment of encrypted information and secure storage.
I left the event optimistic about the volcano that is about to explode in UK consumer financial services. People will suddenly see a wave of exciting apps that are not only usable – but fun. It will become far, far easier for people to manage their money.
And that’s got to be a clucking good thing, right?