How COVID-19 brought us into the Open Banking era faster

24 / 11 / 2020

The current pandemic has put also Europe in a difficult situation for a while now, but today you can cautiously hear positive signals again, driven by the good news surrounding the development of a vaccine. Things are no different in the financial world; six months ago, the news was dominated by banks facing credit losses. However, now it appears that banks in Europe have dealt well with the economic blow of the pandemic. Analysts expect the majority of banks to close the year at a profit, absorb credit losses and maintain capital buffers at a solid level.

How COVID-19 brought us into the Open Banking era faster

Besides that, as a result of the corona pandemic, many banks accelerated digitisation. Especially now that working from home has become more common and customers switched en masse to cashless, digital payment means.

Foundation of Open Banking

It’s a lucky coincidence, because this digital transformation could be the foundation on the road to the Open Banking era, where ease of use, instant and overview are terms that customers are looking for. When banks have their legacy systems in order, they can explore the possibilities that PSD2 and Open Banking have to offer, especially on a pan-European scale.

With equensWorldline, we are now one of Europe’s leading Open Banking providers and in this role, we saw before the crisis that an increasing number of banks and third party providers are exploring the benefits of our Access 2 Account TPP Services. These services connect to more than 2.800 banks in sixteen countries (and rapidly increasing) via a single API, giving companies the possibility to initiate a payment or retrieve account information from any bank in Europe.

The new normal

I expect interest to grow even more as a result of the accelerated digitisation. What the payment world looks like in this Open Banking era will become apparent later, but I expect that Instant Payments will play an important role in the future ecosystem. This is primarily because customers around the world see instant as the new benchmark. Not only when they send text messages or check their bank account balance, but also when they pay. If the whole world is instant, payments should be instant as well. That is why one way or another, Instant Payments will become the new normal.

I also believe that Open Banking and Instant Payments are a winning combination. Instant Payments are capable of unlocking the full potential of Open Banking by speeding up the development of new user-friendly payment solutions. To do so, banks need to add Instant Payments as an extra layer to their infrastructure. The new functionalities and services built on this layer generate an abundance of real-time customer data. Data that can be used directly for better and personalized domestic and cross-border services created by banks and third parties in the era of Open Banking and PSD2. This can turn European financial players into strong global competitors again.

Bright spots

As said, these new opportunities are also recognised by our clients who have been able to improve their services on a pan-European scale. Not only retail banks, but also commercial banks, retailers, big techs, accountancy firms and insurance companies are finding their way into the new domain of Open Banking. Due to the forced digitisation that many financial institutions have undergone during the pandemic, COVID-19 has indirectly placed us at the centre of the Open Banking era. That is one of the few bright spots to emerge from this crisis.

Find out what our Open Banking solutions can do for your business. 

Michael Steinbach

Michael Steinbach

Michael Steinbach is Head of Global Business Line Financial Services of Worldline and CEO of equensWorldline SE. Furthermore he is member of Worldline´s Group Executive Committee. Next to that, he is involved in national and international payment committees. Earlier, he acted as Chairman of the International Payments Framework Association (IPFA) and member of the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank Nederland NV. Michael Steinbach was one of the responsible acting managers on the mergers between the Dutch Interpay B.V. and the German Transaktionsinstitut fuer Zahlungsverkehrsdienstleistungen AG which led to the incorporation of Equens in 2006 and between Equens and the processing part of Worldline, resulting in the creation of equensWorldline SE in 2016.