Open Banking Access Store and Customer Journeys

Open Banking

Open Banking is an initiative introduced by the UK Government to encourage innovation in the finance sector. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires the big nine banks to comply with its requirements, which the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) regulates. The idea is to allow the incumbent digital-first finance start-ups to compete on a more equal footing, since consumers aren’t benefitting from technology improvements within the financial sector.

How does it work?

Other countries around the world are also implementing their own open banking initiatives, which requires the banks to open up their customers’ data through the use of APIs, but only when the customer has agreed to do so with a third party. Open Banking enables a user to set up a payment or account aggregation on a third party site, then authorise that consent securely through their bank channels. 

For example, a customer may start using a budgeting app (such as Cleo) and consent to allow Cleo access to all her bank accounts. Open Banking enables this sharing of information to be done securely, whereas in the past a customer may have shared their password using screen scraping, which is rather dodgy.

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The team

There is a huge team in RBS that worked on Open Banking from the same Enterprise Engineering office. One of the best things about this project is that the design work we do gets built pretty quickly and we can see the build, giving and receiving feedback from the devs and testers regularly. There was momentum in the project given that if we didn’t deliver open banking customer journeys, we’d be deemed non-compliant by the FCA, which is bad news for the Bank. 

I worked closely with a UX lead and a visual designer, and had bi-weekly meetings with the UI team and testers to share ideas, present work-in-progress and discuss unforeseen issues. I designed wireframes for the journeys based on business requirements gathered by business analysts and presented on excel spreadsheets as user stories. During the design process I discussed what our capabilities for the build would be with the back-end and UI teams, and during the build answered queries from the devs and testers when there were unforeseen issues cropping up.

My work

The OBIE requires banks to recreate all journeys available to customers online, but starting from a third party. We recreated dozens of journeys where the user sets up a payment or an account aggregation, to share their financial data for budgeting, for example, on a third party site, then validates the journey on the Bank’s open banking micro-site. 

It was a great opportunity to make improvements on the user experience in an environment constrained by legacy systems where it’s often tricky, verging on impossible, to do so. Big bank legacy restricting UX improvements is a real and frustrating experience, but is vital especially considering the sheer number of customers the Bank has.

I designed and oversaw the build of a customer and staff data access store starting with business requirements, to pen and paper sketches, wireframes in Sketch and an Invision prototype to demonstrate to stakeholders for their approval.  The data access store lets bank staff and customers see open banking payments, transfers and any data sharing agreements they’ve set up. I designed the colleague and customer access store as a mobile-first site, with each sections as modules so that the store can grow and slot in with other developments the Bank has in mind.

Since it's been built, the Access Store has also been co-opted into a data management system in the personal banking sector, which is satisfying to see as it can grow and slot in nicely.

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