Jonny Hawkins, Head of Data Science at Liberis

Open Banking has got off to an encouraging if slow start in the year since it was launched, said the alternative finance provider behind the first ever funding application to use the technology.
Since that pioneering transaction, Liberis has been using Open Banking technology to increase funding access for UK small businesses. Working with fintech Openwrks, Liberis said it is able to allow customers to see their bank account transaction data in real time. By offering a clear picture of a business’s funding needs, decision making is enhanced and funding applications expedited, said Jonny Hawkins, Head of Data Science at Liberis. He said Liberis can process an application without the customer having to provide additional physical proof of their transaction history, making for a smoother customer journey.
But Hawkins has urged the finance industry to do more to ensure that customer facing staff are informed about Open Banking, saying this is essential if the technology is to capitalise on gains made since its launch.
“Open Banking has taken a while to get up and running, which is what I would have expected given the legacy models the major banks are working with,” he said. “They are working on it as best as they can. Our customers find it a really valuable service, but in terms of wider introduction there is still a long way to go. As the institutions that use open banking start to get more comfortable with it, and more confident that it actually works, they’ll be able to build it into their products and services and offer their consumer and SME customers more.”
SMEs and sole traders, he said, will continue to be an important use case for Open Banking, as those are the businesses that set a lot of value on their own time: “Technology that improves the application process for finance really works for them,” concluded Hawkins. “The traditional model might see them wait two weeks for an answer, and then get declined. With us, they’ll generally get an answer in 24 hours, so even if that is a ‘no’, and it’s ‘yes’ for 70% of cases, then they can move on quickly.”

by Guy Matthews
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