Research published today by the Financial Services Consumer Panel shows that consumers are not giving informed consent when they share their financial data.
New money management services and ways of making payments – made possible by open banking and recent payments legislation - rely on ‘third party’ access to consumers’ financial transaction data. This creates opportunities for more tailored products and services, and greater competition, but requires consumers to give informed consent.
However, most participants in research commissioned by the Panel did not read terms and conditions, and didn’t understand them even when they did. They saw terms and conditions as too long and complicated, full of legal jargon, and ‘not written with consumers in mind’. Although people expressed some concerns about sharing their data, speed and convenience were overriding factors in deciding whether to sign up to an app or service. Some people based their decision on existing users’ reviews, or relied on a vague feeling that regulation would protect them.
There are increasing reports of the misuse of consumer data, the most recent being that of Cambridge Analytica’s alleged mishandling of the personal data of millions of Facebook users. It is vital that consumers understand the difference between the way their social media data are shared, and the more secure financial data sharing now available.
Commenting on the findings Sue Lewis, Chair of the Panel said:
“Our research underlines the need for genuinely informed consent. Ensuring people understand what they are signing up to is vital. For too long, terms and conditions have been written to protect firms and not to enlighten consumers. That has to change. People also need to know which providers they can trust, and what happens to their data. There is an opportunity for innovators to provide better services for consumers, and to spur change in the wider industry. But the government and the FCA need to get consumer protection right now, not wait until things have gone badly wrong and trust in the new world has been undermined.”
The Consumer Panel’s position paper and full list of recommendations can be read here.
Vincent Paulger ([email protected] ; 020 7066 5338)
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Consumer Panel is a statutory body under the Financial Services Act 2012.The Financial Services Authority originally established it in December 1998. The Panel advises the FCA on the interests and concerns of consumers.
The Panel’s membership is drawn from a broad range of backgrounds with expertise including market research, law, financial services industry, financial inclusion, European Regulation, financial regulation, consumer advice, campaigning, communications, compliance and later-life issues.
The emphasis of the Panel's work is on activities that are regulated by the FCA, although it may also look at the impact on consumers of activities outside but related to the FCA's remit. More information about the Panel's work is available on its website: www.fs-cp.org.uk or via its LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
The research report completed by the Department of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science on behalf of the Panel is titled ‘Report on a study of how consumers currently consent to share their financial data with a third party’ and can be found here.
The Panel’s position paper ‘Consenting adults? - Consumers sharing their financial data’ can be found here.