Themes Identified from Consumer & SME Research

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Published 1 year ago 16 Mar 2023

These are the principles that should be considered when establishing Open Banking Customer Journeys. Open Banking Limited (OBL) has undertaken consumer and SME research over 18 months and this section draws out the themes and principles identified.

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1. Trust

There is a natural tendency for consumers to feel unsure about, or even sceptical about, new ways of doing things. This is especially so when it comes to financial management and making financial transactions, areas where consumers tend to be inherently cautious. There is a recognition that the consequences of dealing with a company which is untrustworthy or experiencing the effects of a data breach can be severe for consumers.

The research reveals a clear link between the transparency of any new product or service and the willingness of potential users to trust it. With both consumers and SMEs trust can be earned around Open Banking enabled services if ASPSPs and TPPs are open and clear in explaining the steps in the process, what is happening throughout the journey, where consent needs to be given and in reassuring about security.

Consumers will be reassured by a clear consent process that explains what they are consenting to. A three-step process, involving the PSU giving consent to a TPP, authentication at ASPSP and a final step at the TPP that summarises the sharing of information or initiation of payment offers this clarity. More truncated processes can also provide reassurance but, with fewer steps, the need for absolute clarity of information presentation is increased.

Trust is essential in encouraging the use of AIS, but it is PIS journeys where it is most critical since the risk associated with potential loss of funds is more immediately recognised than the risks associated with loss of data. Review steps during a journey can help to build trust. This trust is equally important to individual consumers and SMEs. The research shows that, for both audiences, the larger the purchase, the greater the need for trust.

The research indicates that PSUs have a greater tendency to trust ASPSPs, with whom they will already have relationships relating to their finances, than TPPs. ASPSP processes are familiar, and they are known established brands. Many TPPs, especially those without an existing brand or presence in the market, will need to work harder to prove their trustworthiness with consumers. They need to ensure, in developing services and the communications that go with them, that they are at least as clear and transparent as ASPSPs. Using an ASPSPs logo, for example on redirection screens, will make consumers feel more trust in the process, and provide reassurance regarding authenticity.

Trust can also be built by using different and multiple channels for receipts, for example, SMS, email or letter, as well as within the PISP and ASPSP screens.

2. Security 

Concerns about security were a consistent theme across all the research conducted. Consumers and SMEs recognise that there are risks inherent in sharing banking information and data. However, their understanding of the nature of such risks and what can be done to mitigate them is limited.

Concerns stem from uncertainty and focus on issues such as data sharing and privacy, fears about cybersecurity and fraud. Providing reassurance about the security of processes and journeys will be fundamental to the success of the Open Banking ecosystem.

The research shows that concerns about security tend to be expressed more strongly concerning PIS journeys. Security is vital for both consumers and SMEs, but it is especially critical for SMEs, due to the nature and scale of the transactions involved. SMEs are more likely to be making more payments of higher value, and their businesses may depend on these being made securely. There may also be reputation considerations involved.

There is a link between security and control, as being reassured about security gives PSUs a sense of being in control, which will increase their willingness to explore products, services and benefits available more fully.

There is also a link between security and ease. Consumers would prefer not to have to enter details manually but for details to be pre-populated or dropdown boxes provided. Not only is this easier for the consumer, but it also minimises the risk of them making errors.

Consumers want guarantees and protection to be built into Open Banking customer journeys. They tend to look to both ASPSPs and TPPs to provide this. However, they recognise that there could be a trade-off involved between the need for protection and potential offers, discounts or benefits, and may be willing to take more risk in some circumstances, particularly when making smaller transactions.

Consumers need security messages to be clear and well sign-posted, and they value confirmation and reconfirmation. Some customers also value the extra step involved in decoupled journeys.

Providing supplementary information plays a vital role in delivering reassurance and a sense of security for consumers. Consumers express concern if some journeys feel ‘too easy’. Consumers would feel more comfortable if, for example, the process of initiating more substantial payments had more positive friction within it than that for smaller transactions.

3. Speed 

While supplementary information is welcome in some journeys, the research shows that, in general, consumer PSUs prefer shorter journeys. Those with too many steps or which appear too repetitive are likely to discourage adoption. Consumers recognise the potential trade-off between speed, clarity and security.

Open Banking journeys should feel smooth, with services easy for consumers to use, and with minimal scrolling, clicking and wait times. Consumers will also find journeys that feel familiar to be simpler to understand and navigate, allowing them to complete them more quickly and efficiently. New or unfamiliar journeys should feel seamless and intuitive, analogous to existing financial services journeys.

Many consumers find app-based journeys easier than web-based, due to less information being shown on screen, as well as the general high mobile usage and comfort amongst consumers, and the intuitive nature of a touchscreen.

4. Transparency 

The research showed the need for transparency around Open Banking customer journeys. Consumer PSUs are reassured when they understand what is happening at each stage of the process and find that there is a logical flow to the steps within a journey. Transparency requires that the journey enables the consumer to comprehend what is happening, is clear about what they are agreeing to and find the process convenient. Transparency is also key to building trust, as discussed above.

Amongst the things that research indicates ASPSPs and TPPs can do to deliver transparency for PSUs are explaining things clearly, confirming payments and providing helpful information and prompts.

Key to delivering transparency is the way in which information is presented. The provision of technical information and extensive detail can sometimes undermine transparency. For example, some of the detail around international payment methods and FX, if not explained clearly, can lead PSUs to feel confused.

TPPs and ASPSPs should be clear as to why they require customers to share the information they are requesting. If the customer is transparent with their data, so the providers should be clear about what they will do with it. This sense of reciprocity will also help engender trust.

The research has shown that the language used to explain PIS and AIS services and the steps involved in the journeys needs to be consumer-friendly and not open to misinterpretation. Communication needs to be familiar, if possible, so consumers can identify what it is and link it to something they know, or may already use. Entirely new concepts should be explained in clear, plain English and with consistent use of terms, and minimal technical language/jargon.

5. Control

Throughout the research conducted for Open Banking Ltd (OBL), the need for customers to feel in control, throughout an AIS or PIS journey, was a recurrent theme.

There are clear links between control, security and ease of use / navigability. Where customers trust the security, they feel in control. Where they can understand what is happening, they will feel a sense of control over the process.

Being able to review, check and confirm (positive friction) are all sources of control for consumers. Enabling revocation is also important. The knowledge that a decision can be reversed adds reassurance, particularly when doing something for the first time.

Control is also linked to transparency. If ASPSPs and TPPs are transparent, the PSU feels more in control. Dashboards also help consumers feel a sense of control. Dashboards provide consumers with evidence of activity and the ability to review in case of problems or issues.