A new coalition aimed at opening up financial data to benefit consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has gained the support of Leeds, the UK’s second-strongest financial and legal centre. Launched on July 13, 2023, by the Centre for Finance, Innovation, and Technology, the Open Finance Coalition aims to showcase the potential of leveraging financial data to provide improved outcomes and enhance financial awareness for SMEs and consumers.

This pioneering initiative has already secured commitments from several prominent partners dedicated to advancing Open Finance in the UK. Notably, Leeds is the first city and local authority outside of London to join this collaboration. The list of partners includes renowned organisations such as the Association of British Insurers, Allen and Overy, Amazon Web Services, Experian, the City of London Corporation, EY, HSBC, IBM, Innovate Finance, iwoca, KPMG, Leeds City Council, Lloyds Banking Group, Mastercard, MBN Solutions, Monzo, Open Banking Limited, the Open Finance Association, Revolut, the Smart Data Foundry, and Zopa Bank, with the backing of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The primary focus of the Open Finance Coalition will be to highlight the power of financial data in promoting better financial awareness for consumers and facilitating SME financing. These areas offer significant opportunities to showcase the potential of Open Finance, empowering individuals and SMEs to effectively manage their savings, cashflow, investments, pensions, and insurance. This, in turn, will contribute to the overall financial well-being of the nation.

The concept for this coalition stems from recommendations presented in the Kalifa Review of UK Fintech, which was launched earlier this year in Leeds. The review aims to eliminate barriers to growth in the financial technology sector and position the United Kingdom as a global leader in financial innovation. Leeds was identified as an integral part of one of the most well-established FinTech hubs in the UK.

Councillor James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, expressed his enthusiasm for participating in the Open Finance coalition, emphasising the city’s commitment to enhancing access to financial data for both SMEs and consumers. He stated, “We are delighted to be a part of the new Open Finance coalition to drive better access to financial data for both SMEs and consumers.

“The ethos and work to be done as part of this project feed perfectly into our inclusive growth ambitions, and therefore we were keen to take this opportunity to further work within the city to increase financial awareness and knowledge in collaboration with our thriving Fintech community.”

Leeds boasts a thriving FinTech sector and is the UK’s second most influential financial and legal centre. Over the past three years, its Gross Value Added (GVA) has surpassed £700 million, doubling in size. The region’s strength in financial services, combined with its vibrant and rapidly expanding tech sector, forms the foundation for this flourishing FinTech ecosystem. More than 60 established financial services organisations have established a presence in Leeds, including recent additions such as the Financial Conduct Authority, UK Infrastructure Bank, and Bank of England. In the tech sector, Leeds is home to 17 of the 100 fastest-growing tech companies in the North of England and hosts the highly regarded Leeds Digital Festival, one of the UK’s largest and most prominent digital events.

The Open Finance Coalition, with Leeds at its forefront, aspires to revolutionise access to financial data and foster a more financially aware and empowered society. By leveraging the power of Open Finance, this initiative aims to bring about positive outcomes for both consumers and SMEs while solidifying the UK’s position as a leader in financial innovation.