If you managed to make it to page 92 of the 2015 Budget Report you may have stumbled upon this little gem:
2.220 Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in banking – The government has
today confirmed its commitment to deliver an open API standard in UK banking and, working
with the banking and FinTech industries, set out a detailed framework for its design by the end
of 2015. This will enable FinTech firms to make use of bank data on behalf of customers in a
variety of helpful and creative ways, and ensure the UK remains at the forefront of developments
in financial technology and innovation.
It’s great to see that the Government have recognised the value to the SME community in encouraging banks to develop open standards for sharing data. This has been a bugbear of mine since I started working on QuickFile, and in nearly 5 years the lack of commitment from the banks to address this problem is somewhat depressing!
Access to real time banking data in accounting software in my view removes a significant obstacle for small businesses to effectively manage their finances. The workarounds for pulling in bank feeds (e.g. data scraping, browser extensions etc) are far from ideal but for a long time have been the only viable option.
I only hope the banks don’t drag their heels too much, although this is an encouraging step forward. We’ll wait and see how this pans out!