Accounting software house FreeAgent has claimed an Open Banking first, announcing that it is now testing data feeds with the accounts of the UK’s nine largest banks.
The Edinburgh-based vendor has linked its software to the nine biggest banks in the UK (the CMA 9) through Open Banking – a move that will allow FreeAgent to provide customers of these banks greater financial visibility with a flow of data directly into their business accounts.
This is FreeAgent’s next step on its Open Banking journey. In February, a year after the implementation of the Second Payment Service Directive (PSD2), the company opened up its system for the first time to access RBS and NatWest bank data feeds via Open Banking interfaces.
The company tested the feeds with a small group of RBS and NatWest customers with a view to offer the service to customers of other banks in the following months.
With this new announcement, the wider rollout promised at the beginning of the year is now starting to take shape.
The CMA 9 are the largest banking entities in the UK, based on the volume of personal and business current accounts. The group currently holds more than 80% of small business accounts in the UK, and was required to implement Open Banking APIs by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) from January 2018 (although five of the banks were handed a deadline extension).
The data feeds, which are currently in the beta testing phase, mean that FreeAgent will be able to provide Open Banking access to customers of banks including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander.
According to a company statement, the official launch will follow in the next few months.
“We're looking forward to building on our Open Banking foundations and showing our users what we'll be able to do for them in the future with more direct access to transaction information and payments," said CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent Ed Molyneux.
"The overall tenor is convergence of banking, accounting and wider financial services for small business,” Molyneux told AccountingWEB. “There are so many pieces slotting into place at the moment. It’s worth more detailed exploration.”
Alongside its work on open banking APIs, FreeAgent is closely involved in fintech R&D initiatives taking place within its parent company RBS NatWest. Molyneux was reluctant to put forward details before new concepts were proven, but added: "The next steps you'll see from us won’t be the traditional accounting functions that you’d expect to see."