We talk to Emma Steeley, Commercial Director at Accountscore about open banking and the Accountscore products
Tell us a bit about AccountScore and your products and services on offer.
AccountScore provides beautifully categorised and organised bank transaction data. In addition, we have created consents.online which is an AISP providing branded Open Banking as a Service (OBaaS), accessing APIs from banks to collect transaction data. We offer a turn key solution to implementing Open Banking solutions for Businesses in the UK. We also offer our AccountScore platform in India and North America with plans to expand further over the next 18months.
The AccountScore platform offers a multitude of options for those wishing to use bank transaction data to enhance their business. Our Enrich product, provides reliable, accurate and easy to understand transaction data analytics on data sourced through consents.online. Within this solution clients are able to access our affordability modules which help to apply affordability weighting calculations to a customer bank transaction data and for our SME clients we offer a forecasting module which looks at the historic actual data and enables a lender to pre-populate future data on a linear scale, using historic averages, replicating the historic data or inputting data manually as appropriate. We also have an income verification product called Verify which is a simple API service which allows clients to verify their customers’ salary and employment status. Further to this we provide AccountScore Events which are daily alerts for significant changes in the customer’s account.
Our product offering is comprehensive and flexible.
The AISP framework means only the best and most robust businesses obtain access to bank APIs. That’s important, because maintaining the integrity of the data and ongoing consent management is a significant responsibility. Our clients let AccountScore do just that – then get on with innovating – an area where they excel whilst benefiting from the insight gained from the AccountScore platform.
How do they benefit your customers? Can you give us some examples of the impact on their own decision-making?
For banks and financial services providers, the key benefits are as follows:
• Provision of a branded, customer facing consents management platform which takes care of the regulatory requirement to provide transparent and editable consent management.
• We take the responsibility for regulatory compliance and data integrity.
• We are able to provide a unified platform allowing easy integration to B2B customers.
• Access to Open Banking bank transaction data
• Accurate identification of salary and other sources of income;
• Detailed disposable income assessments;
• Complete listing of financial services and other regular commitments;
• Visibility into missed payments or returned direct debits;
• Identification of problematic behaviour indicative of likelihood to default – such as repeated online gambling
• Notifications of improved financial circumstances that could enable graduation to another product or an increased credit limit – such as a new employer or salary increase
Our platform examines and understands a consumer’s historical and predicted financial circumstances. One of the key benefits of this is that businesses can make a distinction between fixed costs, compulsory costs – and those which are discretionary. With our platform we can determine what the transactions are and group them into categories which can be reasonably agreed to be fixed or discretionary.
Our platform empowers our clients to understand affordability on an entirely new level. By using our platform clients can find swap-in populations which offset those customers they can no-longer lend to, perhaps with better credit performance.
The recurrence engine and ongoing monitoring capabilities of our platform also gives our clients unprecedented insight into a consumer’s long-term affordability performance. No affordability model can predict everything that might happen to a customer, and we shouldn’t aim to price future difficulties into our decisions. Instead our solution allows clients to monitor a consumer’s bank transaction data on an ongoing basis, so they can deal with circumstances as they happen and make changes accordingly. Long before the consumer might experience a failed payment.
We believe that a sensible approach to affordability up-front coupled with ongoing monitoring, is good for the customer, and good for our clients as it can directly drive revenues upwards yet shifts the mix towards better quality customers and reducing defaults by dealing with issues before our client would historically been even aware of them.
At AccountScore, we use over 2 million keywords to create a reliable and robust analysis of the online transaction data, giving credit providers information they can trust when considering affordability as part of their credit assessment.
Not only do we provide the base data through an API or in a beautiful dashboard, but our data engine, built and tested over 6 years in a live lending environment. We have successfully categorised over 15 million transactions so far.
How has PSD2/Opening Banking impacted on your strategy in the EU / UK Markets?
Our strategy for PSD2/Open Banking is all about empowering businesses to put the consumer first, whilst ensuring Open Banking is commercially viable for the businesses we work with.
consents.online was successfully registered as one of the first AISPs in the UK and is the leading the way in Open Banking and consents management by providing branded OBaaS.
Being able to produce a comprehensive consent management architecture and enable our clients to go live with an Open Banking solution so early in the Open Banking initiative is a huge achievement for our team and our partners.
Do you think that those initiatives will have a significant impact on the financial services landscape in those markets? Any views on potential winners/losers in that new context?
Yes absolutely, Open Banking is designed to encourage competition in financial services whilst providing maximum transparency and security for consumers, so naturally it is widely expected that this will lead to technology companies entering into financial services and disrupting banks’ traditional models and changing the landscape in those markets. We believe that Open Banking will revolutionise all kinds of products and markets.
consents.online is currently helping Tier 1 banks who already understand the value of bank transaction data, and are adopting branded OBaaS to enable them to provide better services to their existing customers, along with providing products more efficiently to new to bank customers. Customers are given the control, transparency and awareness needed to embrace Open Banking.
In addition to this we are also working with financial and technology providers who are pioneering branded OBaaS.. Some of the best use cases we have created so far are for businesses looking to use transaction data to achieve the automation of decision making, offer a swap and save type solution and retailers/lenders looking to match suitable products based on real time affordability models- all powered by OBaaS.
The winners here will be the innovators that understand the value of putting the consumer first so that consumers can embrace the new products and services that will be powered through Open Banking.
In the absence of similar regulatory initiatives in the other markets in which you operate, are the market dynamics very different?
Yes, we currently operate in India and in North America. We are enjoying our Indian expansion and have reason to believe we can add value to banks and NBFCs in India in short order. The advent of the India Stack and the liberalisation of banking in India makes this an exciting time to enter the market. We have applied for an NBFC Account Aggregator approval and we plan to augment our product offering in India over time. Critical to this will be banks providing API access into their accounts similarly to current arrangements in the United Kingdom.
We believe that AccountScore has a major role to play in the US credit market. Currently, our focus in the US is to work with a broad range of financial service providers, helping US businesses understand how online banking transaction data, when it has proven analytics layered into it, is the most comprehensive source of information available to enable lenders to examine and understand an individual consumer’s financial circumstances, historically, currently and in the near future.
Will we find you tasting craft beer or dancing at the Festival?
Emma has spent the last 15 years of her career working in senior executive positions within the alternative lending sector. As Marketing Director of MEM Consumer Finance, she oversaw all of the products growth ahead of its sale to Dollar Financial at which point she was appointed Managing Director of Sales and Marketing for all of Dollar UK’s online operations. In 2014 she was appointed UK Managing Director of EZ Corp’s UK operations for the specific project of winding down the UK business. After successfully navigating that process, she returned to business growth as Marketing Director of SafetyNet Credit before moving to AccountScore as Commercial Director.
Emma is an enterprising and customer-focused leader with a natural ability for building new business and forging loyalty with clients, suppliers and external business partners. She strives to optimise operations, reduce costs and improve quality of service. She has extensive experience in a fast paced highly competitive industry from key roles in online financial services, specialising in strategic market planning, customer acquisition & retention, call centre management, new product design & development, lead generation and customer relationship management.