Australian FinTechs divided as regulators allow screen scraping

From: RegTech Analyst

Screen scraping may be on the way out in Europe, but Australian regulators see no reason to ban it just yet.

The practice of using a program to pull information off screens has become a controversial topic with the EU having banned it and several big financial companies openly opposing screen scraping.

For instance, JPMorgan banned the practice in February. Any FinTech business still using the practice will be banned from accessing the investment bank’s data.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has previously advised its customers against giving access to their credentials to FinTech firms using screen scraping, saying the lender view it as a security risk.

Nevertheless, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) told the senate during a hearing that it was not intending to stop the practice of consumers giving FinTechs access to their data for use in other financial services, Which-50 reported. ASIC added that the regulator saw no evidence that allowing screen scraping would harm customers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has previously voiced a similar opinion.

Rebecca Schot-Guppy, general manager of FinTech Australia, the body championing the Australian FinTech industry, welcomed the decision.

She told the senate committee that there was no need to ban the practice before the new Consumer Data Right (CDR) is introduced later this year. Many believe that the new rules and open banking, which will make it easier for consumers to transfer their data between different providers via APIs, will make the screen scraping redundant.

“From our perspective, the reasonable conclusion is that no attempt should be made to outlaw screen scraping until CDR and CDR data is readily available across the economy,” Schot-Guppy said.

“More broadly, the CDR should be implemented in a manner that is easier to access, provides better functionality and is cheaper than scraping. This will remove the need for companies to use screen scraping to obtain specific confidential financial data.”

Robert Bell, CEO and founder of 86 400, the Australian challenger bank, also told the committee that only big firms are against screen scraping because the ban would give them an unfair advantage, Yahoo Finance reported.

“I would argue that the loudest voices on this, in terms of anti-screen scraping, are those who have the most to lose from it, that is, the big banks because they don’t want customers to see their data,” Bell said.

While several other FinTech startups have joined him in welcoming the decision, some are not in a similar celebratory mood.

“Screen scraping is problematic because the data holder doesn’t know that it’s not [the customer],” Lisa Schutz, founder and CEO of Verifier, the income verification startup, said on a Gartner panel in February. “And that has all sorts of risks, cybersecurity implications [and] privacy implications.”

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