Regulators today revealed Australia’s upcoming Open Banking regime, currently in a testing phase, has missed several milestones and is under pressure to meet its February 2020 go live date.

Open Banking is the first use case of Australia’s new Consumer Data Right, a data portability scheme designed to encourage innovation and competition in certain sectors. Under Open Banking Australia’s big four banks will need to make customers’ data available to them or an accredited third party, in a machine readable way.

The scheme has been designed over the last two years and has been in a closed pilot phase since July, with third party testers being added last month. February 2020 is the current target date to make certain data available to the public, essentially the official start of the scheme.

Several stakeholders have already rumbled that the February date is too ambitious and today during Senate Estimates in Canberra today, executives from the ACCC said the regulator – which is overseeing the scheme– has its own reservations about the go live target.

“There are some milestones that we are behind on and we are continuing to review, assess, and advise government on that, including whether there’s mitigation options available to us,” said Scott Gregson, Executive General Manager of the ACCC’s Merger and Authorisation division.

“But … three months is eroding quickly.”

Gregson told MPs several important Open Banking milestones have been met but several others have been missed. There are still “readiness issues” from both the regulator and the big four banks.

“I have to be very frank,” Gregson told the Economics Legislation Committee this morning. “There is some very significant tightness in the timetable and we’re doing everything we can to manage that.”

Gregson said the ACCC is still “working hard” towards the February deadline. It has already finalised a “lock-down” version of the rules for Open Banking, which will be shared with the government in the coming weeks, but is yet to complete its platform or register for accredited third parties which receive data at consumers’ request.

The current testing phase involving banks and a select group of other financial services companies also began later than the regulator would have liked, Gregson said.

“That is a very tight timetable and that is where a lot of the pressure points emerging, in that test regime. We’re working very closely with banks to do [meet the deadline].”

Gregson confirmed the regulator still intends to apply the Consumer Data Right to the energy and telecommunications sectors, in that order. But the ACCC is also considering other sectors.

“That is still the, sort of, rough batting order of matters but that is also subject to review.”

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