Financial tech firms disagree on ban of customer data screen-scraping

For years, financial technology (fintech) companies have used screen-scraping to retrieve customers’ financial data with their consent. Think lenders, financial management apps, personal finance dashboards, and accounting products doing useful things: like, say, your budgeting app will use screen-scraping to get at the incoming and outgoing transactions in your bank account, using the information to power its analysis…

…putting your privacy, passcode and other security information in danger of getting lost along the way.

Because of those potential dangers to people’s privacy and data, many in fintech are urging the Australian to follow in the footsteps of the European Union (EU) and to ban screen-scraping. But the call is far from unanimous, with some saying that smaller companies just can’t afford the alternatives to get at customer data.

On Thursday, representatives of companies in the fintech industry met with Australia’s Senate Committee of Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology to chime in.

As ZDNet reports, one of the calls for a ban came from Lisa Schutz, founding director of The Regtech Association and CEO of Verifier, who said that her company could use screen-scraping, but it’s chosen not to. That’s because they don’t want to step on her customers’ toes, privacy-wise, she said. Instead, Verifier abides by the 12 principles of Australia’s Privacy Act to access data: the “long way to get the right outcome,” she said, but worth it:

It comes back to what is the 2050 Australia that we want to live in.

The question of banning screen-scraping has come to pass thanks to the UK’s Open Banking initiative – a new, more secure way for consumers, including small businesses, to share information. It’s created a standardized way to share data and collect customer consent.

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