SME’s embrace open banking payment technology

Millions of adults in the UK would have to borrow money to afford an unexpected bill of £300, research has found.

The number of “open banking” payments more than doubled last year to 68 million, with small and medium-sized businesses adopting the technology more quickly than consumers.

At least 750,000 small and medium-sized businesses now integrate their bank accounts with third-party services to reduce the cost of transactions and help to manage cashflow, according to Open Banking Limited — the body set up by the Competition and Markets Authority to force the nine leading current account banks to share customer details, with the aim of making it easier for people to shop around for banking services.

According to Open Banking, the proportion of businesses using the technology in 2022 — 16 per cent— is higher than the proportion of consumers doing so, at 11 per cent.

The findings come ahead of a delayed update this month from the Treasury and financial regulators on extending open banking to other financial products, such as insurance and mortgages. The government is also expected to decide on how best to use information held on consumers and businesses to better provide healthcare and government services.

Richard Newman, of Open Banking, said more small businesses were taking advantage of the option because it “makes life easier and means less time can be spent on paperwork”.

Michael Green, a general manager at Xero, an accountancy software firm, said the use of open banking had “accelerated” in recent years, but he called for more progress. “We now need the government to publish its new road map for open banking . . . to provide the best possible outcomes for consumers and [smaller companies],” he said.

In February, Sage, the software company, integrated its accounting suite with Funding Circle, the specialist small business lender, with the promise that customer loan applications could be decided within minutes. Sage said about half its British customers used open banking.